County council sets out to help more people into work

Friday, 17th May 2019

STAFFORDSHIRE County Council has set out how it will help more people into work and develop their skills through apprenticeships, after launching its new Apprenticeship Strategy.

The county council’s cabinet has agreed the new strategy, which sets out how the council plans to invest in employees and grow apprenticeships in the county.

The agreement comes as the county council’s cabinet member for learning and employability, Philip White, has added his voice to calls for the Government to reform its apprenticeship levy and encourage more people to undertake an apprenticeship.

The Local Government Association and partners have written to the Government outlining their concerns that the potential of the scheme is not being realised, with barriers preventing the programme from working as effectively as it should.

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The partnership is also warning Government against moves to claw back unspent Levy funding – which will begin to happen this month – if money is unspent within two years. This is a move which would hold employers and the workforce back and risks exacerbating the nation’s skills crisis.

County Councillor Philip White, Cabinet Member for Learning and Employability said: “As one of the largest employers in the county, helping to grow apprenticeships is an important part of our business.  We want to raise the skill levels and aspirations of our workforce, and our Apprenticeship Strategy will play a key part in this.

“We want to work with Government to increase the number of good-quality apprenticeships, but need more flexibility on the apprenticeship funding we get in order to do this.  Given the delays to Institute for Apprenticeships’ delivery of standards, the Government should extend the date by which the funds need to be spent, giving us and other councils more time to embed our new strategy and work with our partners to provide more, high-quality apprenticeship opportunities.

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“We are committed to bringing government new solutions to make sure we have an internationally renowned system in place which meets the needs of employers and apprentices.  For the people of Staffordshire, we aspire to be an employer of choice, that attracts, develops and retains the most diverse, creative and innovative individuals with the required skills and abilities.”