RSS Feed

Events

More Articles: Latest Popular Archives

Apprenticeships Roundtable Part 3 – Roundtable Report

26 June 2013     London
Hosted by theHRDIRECTOR.
Chaired by Jason Spiller.

Delegates
Sophie Bain, Apprenticeship Manager – Lloyds Banking Group
Frankie Bradley, Senior Development Trainer – Pizza Hut UK Ltd
Barry Brooks, Group Strategy Director – Tribal Group
Pierre de Carteret, Programme Manager Vocational Training – DHL Supply Chain
Judith Compton, Assistant Director – UK Commission for Employment and Skills UKCES
Stuart Hales, Head of Business Development – Pearson
Nick Hnatiuk, Business Development Manager – Pearson
Kirsty Huntington, Apprenticeship Manager – Vodafone
Jeffrey Lee, Apprenticeships Manager – MITIE TFM
Stuart McPherson, Skills Quality Manager – Interserve plc
Stephen McCormick, Curriculum Manager – Lloyds Banking Group
Omobola Odebiyi, Learning & Development Coordinator, Apprenticeships – Carillion Plc
Anthony Price, HR Technology Manager – Pizza Hut Delivery/Yum! III UK Ltd
Laila Saif, HRLP – GE Capital
Jan Smallbone, Director Learning & Organisational Development, EMEA – Starbucks
James Taylor, Head of Business Development’ Apprenticeships & Skills – Tribal Group
John Tyler, UK Manager – Learning & New Talent – National Grid

One of the biggest issues about vocational qualifications at the moment is that they’re being designed and re-designed to chase public funding, rather than to develop skills in the workforce.

Apprenticeships part 3 focuses on employer ownership of skills, high on the current political agenda, as evidenced by the UKCES pilots and the outcome of the Richard Review.

Against this agenda, part 3 investigates how employers see themselves becoming more integral in the development of their employees’ skills, how internal training programmes can be accredited and mapped against appropriate work-based qualifications including, but not limited to, apprenticeships and the wider benefits they bring, along with perceived barriers. Jason Spiller: What impact is the apprenticeship drive having on unemployment, on school and further education leavers, as well as re-skilling and up-skilling across the workforce? Also, are apprenticeships providing the right training and development to meet the skills requirements of employers?

Jan Smallbone: We started our apprenticeship journey about 18 months ago with a deliberate strategy of trying to engage a younger age group, so a mixture of people who were long term NEETS, or with GCSEs or A levels put off by University fees, and struggling to get into work, because they don’t have the right experience.

Pierre de Carteret: We do see apprenticeships being used as a mechanism to effectively assess people, but it doesn’t fundamentally address any of the issues that we have as an industry (logistics), which is clearly, hugely frustrating for us, and we need to be far more robust in our attitude towards embracing apprenticeships.

Sophie Bain: We haven’t changed our assessment criteria yet in order to widen our net when it comes to apprenticeships, simply because we want to have quite low risk, we want to build credibility in the business, and explore how we can really contribute to youth unemployment and traineeships, and the pre-employability piece.

Kirsty Huntington: Vodafone attracts the younger demographic, so it’s important that we’ve got the right development programmes in place. Apprenticeships give us the opportunity to offer individuals an alternative to our graduate programme.

Judith Compton: At the UK Commission, we’re not recruiting externally at the moment because we are a public sector organisation, but we are able to recruit apprentices and paid interns. This is a fantastic opportunity for us, because they are really strong at communication through social media, and are really adding value.

Anthony Price: We don’t have a specific graduate programme currently, but we are seeing an increase in the number of graduates, who want to start their career at Pizza Hut, and a key part of their interest is our commitment to developing people. We’re currently looking at how we can offer an apprenticeship scheme to enhance our commitment to training and development.

Barry Brooks: People are talking about Apprenticeships as though it’s a single qualification and all at the same level. One of the most important dimensions of the Apprenticeship offer is the opportunity for progression; intermediate, or advanced or higher. This is probably the most exciting thing in developmental and talent management terms.

Frankie Bradley: From Pizza Hut Restaurants perspective, we start at level 2 but definitely want to offer a clear career progression for team members and managers moving up through to management, to gain a level 5 or 6 qualification in the future.

Jan Smallbone: Progression is critically important and we’re moving very quickly onto level 3s. For us, this was about providing a very viable alternative career, gaining transferable skills, without going to University.

John Tyler: National Grid utilises ten year workforce planning data to inform its Apprenticeship recruitment requirements. The organisation has a history of recruiting and delivering high quality 3 year Advanced Apprenticeship Programmes and Graduate development programmes. In recent years this portfolio has been extended to encompass an A Level entrant programme (Higher Apprenticeship) known as an Engineering Training Programme, for both field and office engineering roles, similar to the Apprentice programme, these programmes are a managed framework: two or three years in duration, and include a range of on/off the job training, accompanied by a bespoke Foundation Degree qualification.

Stuart McPherson: We have a fairly ageing workforce in the FM and support services industry so it’s creating a framework where there’s a really robust coaching and mentoring aspect within frameworks, but also access to the apprenticeships in the first place and typically, the literacy and numeracy skills are at a level where we need a framework of functional skills.

Jeffrey Lee: The Apprenticeships we offer are Electrical, Heating and Ventilation, Plumbing and Building Services Apprenticeships, learning not just a skill, but a craft, and I think this is picked up in the Richard report, which says that an Apprenticeship should last a minimum of a year. I think it boils down to education, we need to get into schools more.

Omobola Odebiyi: We have our own training service which is called the Carillion training service and it’s the traditional kind of apprenticeship like plumbers, painters, bricklayers, plasterers, and when they finish their apprenticeship, we try to place them with subcontractors. What I deal with is the technical apprenticeships, where there’s progression not just after level 2 or level 3, but there is progression, into contract manager level. What we do is that for every contract that Carillion wins, we try to have an apprentice within the contract.

Barry Brooks: From September, we have a policy shift that allows a further education college to recruit at 14. At the same time, we have the raising of the participation age. It’s really important to get the language right, it’s not the “raising of the school leaving age”, it’s actually the “raising of the participation age”. Yet we hear that many head teachers are telling their 15 and 16 year olds that they have to stay on at school. What I see are skills policies that signal a real drive for employers to own occupational and vocational training and yet there appears to be an increasing number of barriers that stop you from doing this.

Judith Compton: Successive Governments have created and developed policies centrally to try and get employers more involved in skills, and inadvertently making things more complicated for employers, with a system that was evermore centrally-controlled, and state funding was limited too. We need employers to see the value of apprenticeships, as a route to bring people into businesses. Our success with Employer Ownership is increasing employers’ understanding and there is an appetite amongst employers, to co-invest and work alongside Government, but the policy landscape doesn’t get any simpler.

It’s going to take some time to change the mindset of parents’, that their child must go to university.

Stuart Hales: Schools must do more to guide students on all options, other than staying on at school and going to university.

Barry Brooks: Yes schools still see university as the gold standard. I think that there is a more fundamental problem and that is most school teachers have never worked in industry or business so have no real benchmark. There are so many perverse activities and incentives that come into the system that have to be addressed. That’s why I think that it’s great that UKCES is looking to eliminate them and that’s why I think the Employer Ownership Pilots and supporting training through other means, such as National Insurance or Tax incentives, is worthy of exploration.

Bob Hughes: As an ex-teacher, parents put up huge resistance to any alternative to the academic route – key question, what is forming that mind-set?

Jeffrey Lee: Parents today wouldn’t remember apprenticeships from 30 years ago, careers advisors are no longer in schools and subjects such as carpentry and metal work, are not widely taught.

Pierre de Carteret: Having gone through the process recently with my child regarding his subject choices, the teachers couldn’t quite grasp the fact that I was linking subject choices with career options.

Stuart Hales: When they start to see the results of people going into apprenticeships, surely they will recognise that actually it’s a viable route. Now the problem, at this stage, there isn’t full engagement with apprenticeships in big corporates. So, graduates still make up most of the managers and there’s only a small proportion of apprentices who have progressed to those high levels. It’s a sort of chicken-andegg scenario.

Jan Smallbone: I would say young people are switched on, it is parents who don’t really understand the value of an apprenticeship.

Barry Brooks: Just to follow that through, I believe the choice of Nigel Whitehead to lead this review was inspired, because Nigel will tell you that if you look at BAE Systems it’s actually the former apprentices who are on the board running the company. We haven’t reached the tipping point yet, it’s about raising the profile of skills training in general and apprenticeships in particular.

Stephen McCormick: My nephew who is now 22 got an apprenticeship at 16 and his friends saw him as being fortunate that he’d not just got a job, or gone to college, but he’d actually got an apprenticeship, so they actually see it as aspirational.

James Taylor: There does seem to be a level of disparity across the regions. The North East does seem to be a leading region for the attraction of apprentices. The more industrialised areas understand apprenticeships because the traditional entry to this sectors was through apprenticeships. Whereas London was, and still is, services-based.

How robust is the framework to re-skill older people with regards to apprenticeships?

Barry Brooks: Here is the perverse incentives in the system, which currently militates against age 24-plus.

Judith Compton: One of the biggest issues about vocational qualifications at the moment is that they’re being designed and re-designed to chase public funding, rather than to develop skills in the workforce. Now the two shouldn’t be incompatible, but they seem to be in the way the current system works, so I’m quite uncomfortable about that and about that approach. Richard said that Apprenticeships were about entry to a new occupation whatever age that is and an opportunity to start in a career, regardless of age. There are tough decisions to make on funding policy, and it might only be able to afford to fund people into a new occupation, and their might need to be co-investment approaches or tax incentives. But let’s move away from an adult vocational qualifications system that focuses on what attracts public funding rather than on what will support skills employers and individuals need.

James Taylor: Funding can be seen as a way to buy a qualification, which clearly isn’t the right way of doing it and is of no benefit to the individual or the employer. Maybe we should be looking at alternative funding models. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills’ Distance Travelled Pilot is looking at potentially aligning monetary incentives or funding to how far an individual actually travels (measured by assessments at the beginning and end of learning) with their learning and skills development.

Pierre de Carteret: There is a consideration that the competency goes out of the workforce and into training companies. Public funding for SFA has left training providers knocking on the door. If we can do it to ourselves organically, it’s easier to justify in terms of budget alignment.

Barry Brooks: Are qualifications skewing what is being offered? Employers want to get the training right, we want to secure deep learning and competence and we want to assess an individual’s skills. Doug Richard said, if we must have qualifications make sure that employers have a role in their development and make sure that they are fit-for-purpose.

Anthony Price: What attracts us to start looking at offering an apprenticeship scheme is the opportunity for people to join our team and potentially gain an internationally recognised qualification that stands up in, equipping them with transferable and functional skills.

Nick Hnatiuk: There’s a perception organisations have to change their training to fit around the qualification. The training has to be appropriate to the skills and competencies the business and the people need, so we’ve got to fit the qualification around that. We need flexibility in the framework and yes, standards. It’s not going to change overnight but we are making progress.

Barry Brooks: Government has said that everybody that’s on an Apprenticeship should be in a job – I thought they already were! As far back as the 1990s and the Modern Apprenticeships, I can remember QCA making this a key requirement. Nobody should be doing an Apprenticeship without having a job. But you can’t have Ofsted or the SFA or the EFA in with every employer or training organisation, every day.

Jeffrey Lee: The frameworks we deal with, for Electricians, Plumbers, I mean they’re dangerous trades and you need that core. You can’t change the framework, but you need to be flexible around them.

Sophie Bain: The challenge that we face is that we’re a UK-wide employer and want to have consistency across all the nations. Scotland’s a different ball game, Wales don’t even want to talk to us and that’s our challenge.

Pierre de Carteret: We’re certainly being pushed from a corporate respite to have a standard, and whether that’s for the UK, the Nordics, Europe, Africa, Middle-East, it doesn’t really matter, the larger corporates want to see a standard.

Richard puts framework and standards very high on the agenda, where are we with those?

Barry Brooks: Employers developing frameworks is absolutely pivotal for the future of workforce training.

Jan Smallbone: Agreed, it is about getting the right framework. We’ve created our own bespoke qualification, because we want to qualify what we see as our brand differentiators, so we’ve stayed true to that by putting the learner at the heart of it.

Judith Compton: I think the high level principles Richard was trying to achieve are basically right, which is brand clarity, appropriate marketing, education of employers so they really understand what an Apprenticeship is, and funding routed through employers. All this will help to stop those providers that have been miss-selling apprenticeships. But there’s a lot to do to make sure the recommendations are supported by employers and are carried through We do keep saying the Europeans do it better, and one reason is that employers look after apprenticeships, and Government does not get involved. For me, it is about moving away from the low trust model of SASE compliance, towards encouraging employers to come forward with what works for their industry and sector.

Is it clear that employers have the support and information to meet this responsibility?

Sophie Bain: I think setting out at the very beginning, we were just blinded by the complexity of National Apprenticeship Service. So we decided to make our own judgements and what our route would be.

Nick Hnatiuk: It’s got a little bit complicated and I think it really could be an awful lot simpler, I don’t think, for want of a better phrase, that it’s rocket science to make the connections.

Judith Compton: The issue of the Sector Skills Councils is a knotty one, but yes, really strong Sector Skills Councils or activity in sectors is led by employers and employees, a social partnership driving the agenda. In the past some of the sector skills councils were very focused down on micro detail of the occupational standards, so we’re keen to have a much different type of engagement.

Stuart Hales: We’ve partnered a number of EOP Bids in various sectors, to gain access to funding. They’re not education specialists so the help and advice is crucial. If you look at aviation, very big players where there is tension and rivalry, so they have their own agendas. Logistics, as another example, has actually shown more cohesion.

Stuart McPherson: The facilities management industry, which is asset skills-based, the SSC is very supportive of that collaborative approach, they have a virtual academy and a number of players on board, and that really helps force the agenda, so we’ve got a bigger voice, we’re acting together and that does make a difference.

Barry Brooks: Returning to the EOPs the industrial partnerships, have brought competitors into collaborative partnerships, because they want to make a difference to the opportunities available in their sector.

John Tyler: National Grid has a close and productive working relationship with our SSC – EU-Skills. We work together with other Utility Companies to co create qualifications and frameworks, and that has resulted in truly fitfor-purpose qualifications.

Kirsty Huntington: We’ve talked about employers planning the apprenticeship framework and it’s about linking that to the business needs and goals. Fundamentally, it’s about identifying skills, then running a series of workshops with managers in different departments, to understand learning outcomes, particular roles that we’re fulfilling, where are the gaps, how do we fill these gaps and then working backwards from there as to what framework meets those skills gaps, then making a judgement on what level to apply. Then finally, what apprentice profile demographic to target. It’s been quite a learning experience.

Let’s turn our attention to employment law revision, in reference to apprenticeships, and particularly in reference to equality in opportunity and funding.

Barry Brooks: Much of what Richard was trying to do was to give employers the lead and remove the perverse funding incentives. Several of the employers around the table have said that they are best placed to create the Apprenticeship frameworks for their industry so that it’s fit for their business. One of the concerns raised by the Panorama programme was that employees were just being assessed for doing the same role. It was almost a replication of the worst elements of “Train to Gain”, where individuals secured qualifications and training organisations secured resources for simply assessing existing skills.

Jeffrey Lee: Well the frameworks we deal with, they’re a given; Electricians, Plumbers, they are dangerous trades and you need that core. But you also need to be flexible around them, so you can add to them.

Stuart McPherson: There’s a need for this new type of apprentice, that isn’t specifically skilled, but is multi-skilled and able to be mobile.

There’s definition of the role, but also there’s the issue of progressive levels, so apprenticeships don’t just come to an abrupt halt.

James Taylor: Organisations with extremely successful programmes promote apprenticeships internally, as integral to the investment in all staff, and as part of a very clear and visually represented career ladder of progression, promoting a programme of training, aligned to business drivers and objectives. And that supports individuals to develop their skills and provide clear progression opportunities.

Do graduates have a similar problem with regards to not being able to progress?

Barry Brooks: A graduate often has to take a lower level role to secure a job before they can progress in the workplace. Too many of them have to accept a level 2 or a level 3 job, something that they could have secured at 16 or 18.

Jan Smallbone: Apprenticeships have been great for us, and have given me the opportunity to demonstrate to board level that we are able to drive a real commercial result. It’s those transferrable skills that allow people to move on in their journey, and that is what young people are looking for.

Nick Hnatiuk: As good outcomes get into the public domain, and when the impact of increasing the number of skilled workers in the UK starts to have an effect, then apprenticeships will enjoy a high profile of excellent opportunities and re-skilling.

Stephen McCormick: And it’s about onward development, that is fundamental to good outcome and retention cohesion, effective reviewing and a career plan.

Barry Brooks: Business leaders I speak to really eulogise about the impact that their apprentices bring to their business. Not just to the bottom line, but because they ask questions and challenge established business practices. Apprentices are now helping to shape the business… a really exciting development!

Jan Smallbone: Our experience is, this is absolutely a breath of fresh air! They are; switched on, insightful, and they bring new energy and challenge us on all sorts of aspects of our business.

Laila Saif: That’s been one of the main aims that we want to achieve in GE. Looking at our population demographics, the majority of our employees have ten years or more of GE experience. We’re not only talking about age diversity, but also to introduce an external focus, and challenge the way we do things. Asking questions like: “is that the right way to do things, can it be done better? And having these fresh ideas coming into the business, leveraging the opportunity by implementing things like reverse mentoring for example, let them shadow and mentor our senior leaders. As this is a new topic in the business, the challenge is to educate managers on the level these apprentices would come into and also setting the expectations at the right level. Jason Spiller: And the importance of authenticity, value and relevance cannot be over-stated.

Kirsty Huntington: Exactly, if it’s only going to take an apprentice four weeks to be 100 percent effective in a role, you really have to question, is it an apprenticeship at all. An apprenticeship is a long-term development programme that gives people the opportunity to train in a specific role or career path and the apprenticeship is simply something that you can wrap around that. And of course, the nationally-recognised qualification.

Stuart Hales: Once you’ve recognised the pathways, you benchmark. If you’re not defining those pathways and therefore your profession stands at each job type pathway, then you’re doing it ad-hoc and you’re trying to join the dots that aren’t there.

Jan Smallbone: Along with sustainable employment and transferrable skills, you need to consider a portfolio career, as there’s no career for life.

Barry Brooks: Focus should be on a highquality programme, that is the thinking behind the new Traineeships. They are designed to help young people with work readiness. Employers are concerned at the attitudes and the aptitudes that some 16-18 year olds bring into the employment domain, So Traineeships have been designed to bridge the gap between school and work.

James Taylor: Apprenticeships provide a framework for the development of staff that not only supports job effectiveness, but also enhances consistency and provides opportunities for individuals to grow into their role. In some of the best programmes, the progression from level 2 to 3 doesn’t take place after 12 months, it starts taking place after about month three or four, as new training, at a higher level, is introduced to stretch the apprentice, offering opportunities to develop transferrable skills.

Sophie Bain: Part of our programme is to home in on those transferrable skills, the behavioural stuff and soft skills, that’s what we need and what we’ve spent investing in is a learner journey that sits above their apprenticeship.

Nick Hnatiuk: It’s about having the confidence to know what your business needs and wants, rather than the provider dictating that. Sure, you have the fundamentals, but the fine-tuning and detail is up to the employer to determine. So it’s not your standard delivery programme, it’s your apprenticeship programme that you’ve really taken control of.

Stephen McCormick: That’s the key and it’s about being able to complete the role, that there has to be a marked difference between, what is the company’s induction programme and basic training and what is an apprenticeship. It’s not so much the depth as the breadth of that, in my experience.

Barry Brooks: In educational terms, it’s deep and sustained learning, not just the ability to make a really good cup of coffee but to make a really good cup of coffee every day, every time they do it. The aim is to reach a point where they don’t think about that specific process anymore because they’re thinking about all those broader matters associated with the business, like is the customer happy? Today, we’ve used the word talent a lot. This is because employers recognise that this is really about talent management, it’s about developing your talent and the progression of employees within your business.

Bob Hughes: Agreed, it’s not just making someone fit for purpose, you’re making them fit for a future within the business, and fit for what we can truly call a “partnership” with the employer, where there’s mutual investment. That’s fantastic, that’s the gold standard for work-based education, as far away from that cynical “funding fodder” view of Apprenticeships as you can possibly get!

How can internal training programmes be accredited and mapped against appropriate work-based qualifications and what are the perceived obstacles to meaningful accreditation?

Nick Hnatiuk: In my experience, employers don’t develop rubbish training programmes, they develop good training programmes that meet the needs of your business, so really that should be the standard. And for us, it’s a case of putting it into the right language and again that’s where some of the complexity comes out, because QCF standards and terminology and learning access material isn’t what business are used to. They’re used to developing training programmes to meet their needs.

Frankie Bradley: We completed a hot-housing activity to define the needs of our guest experience training and then built our Training Academy programme around this. The aim was to develop the whole person and not just provide technical training. The mapping process, where we partnered with Tribal and Pearson was very straightforward and after reviewing the occupational standards against our training, we picked out the modules that we felt would benefit the apprentices, rather than taking the easier options to ensure that we built a well-rounded programme.

Jan Smallbone: We’ve now got our first level 2 group graduating, which sends out a very clear message to the business and employees. We’ve now moved into a level 3 in business administration, to actually support the apprenticeship scheme and we’ll do the same in marketing and store development and design.

Kirsty Huntington: We’re quite lucky in that we offer apprenticeships across many areas of the business, so we can quite easily move the apprentices around, should they decide to continue on a different career path to the one their original apprenticeship was taking them on. We also offer them the opportunity to experience different parts of the organisation whilst they’re on their apprenticeship.

Laila Saif: Again early stages of implementing an apprenticeship scheme, having our first batch to start in September, so we are still in the learning phase.

It’s clear that the best people to take this forward are employers themselves.

Barry Brooks: We have this commitment to place employers in the vanguard of development, but the current system has been centrally-driven and managed. This approach has almost denuded employers from having their own trainers, delivering their own training or supplying their own experienced mentors. The system has come to rely on external providers coming in and taking the lead in delivering the training. If the vision is about employers or industries owning workforce development then employers must have the opportunity to develop their own training solutions.

Stuart Hales: When we look at the funding trail, we have noticed that employers are actually pushed down the various qualification routes by training providers, which is nonsensical, because most training providers will go where their money is. They’re not interested in progression, they’re not interested in working closely with companies or even recognising a five year development plan.

With people working longer, there’s a wealth of potential internal mentors and trainers on tap.

James Taylor: Having this resource of people who have been there and worked in the organisation, seen how it works best, that makes the whole assessment process much more beneficial and supports real benchmarking of apprentices to take place. John Tyler: We’ve got to look at what our workforce planning requirements are for at least ten years, and the talent strategy sits behind that. We’ve actually tapped into the retiring workforce and put systems in place to take them off-line for 12-18 months and into mentoring process, with some of the assessment processes. We put a whole business case together saying look, this is what it’s costing us with external training providers, we can do this internally and with having that internal workforce to do it, you’re also embedding all the company’s values and behaviours.

Stuart Hales: Employers do have to take more ownership and define the KPIs effectively. It sometimes makes sense to get a specialist who can deliver in a cost effective way, but the fact is, if you don’t own it, then it’s probably your own fault if it all goes wrong and you lose control.

James Taylor: The evolution of that is naturally occurring evidence. Line Managers are continually observing their staff, so the point of differentiation is about how you start capturing that information in a way that not only allows you to report back to the business, but also capture the required evidence for your Apprenticeship programme.

Barry Brooks: So far we’ve only talked today about employers within their own specific frame of reference, but the EOS pilots are potentially much wider than that as they are focusing on industrial partnerships which includes supply chains. This is another way of raising standards of performance and improving the quality chain.

What are the most effective ways for employers to embed qualification assessment into existing performance appraisal processes?

John Tyler: National Grid creates Apprentices programmes aligned to the first post appointment competency requirements; working in collaboration with the SSC and other utility organisations, the programme content and assessment criteria is created. It has achieved bespoke performance management systems for each of its programmes, mapping out technical, behavioural and foundation leadership milestones throughout the duration of the programme, linking on and off the job assessment and aligning the outcomes with the Programme Rewards system. different parts of the business to understand and appreciate how different parts of the business works. I think it will be a good retention tool.

Barry Brooks: We return to the EOPs and ensuring that at least some of them explore and streamline this alignment. Of course, if what Judith was suggesting comes about, that is the funding coming through National Insurance or Tax, we could see the Company FD rather than the HR Director overseeing workforce development. Either way, if we are seeking sustainability you can’t have a disconnect or a dysfunctional relationship with an organisation’s HR practice.

So should Government hand over the funding reins to employers? Also, are employers really best placed to determine the training agenda and self-appraise?

Laila Saif: It depends on whether employers are ready and have the capacity to take that on board. For example, I see some organisations have hired an apprenticeship manager, whereas others have it run as a project and don’t have the resources to take on the extra work. If employers did have the capacity they would be more than happy to get on board but that said, it’s very important to define what it would entail and the commitment required.

Stuart Hales: The last thing Boards want is bad PR, so there is an inherent risk here, because businesses would get audited. But of course, training isn’t just about numbers, it’s not about how many apprentices get certificated. The success of training isn’t about numbers, it’s not about how many apprentices get certificated, it’s about the transformation of the individual and the company.

Pierre de Carteret: I hear people say it’s got a clear ROI for the business, so why would the Government need to fund that then? Perhaps Government money would be better spent preparing school leavers with the skills necessary to enter the workplace.

Stuart Hales: Working with diverse employers, we’re very wary of working with employees who we think are only interested because it’s free. If somebody comes to us and starts saying “we’re doing it because it’s free, we know there’s no longevity in the project and therefore we’re not particularly interested in getting involved in it. If an employer wants zero cost to them, probably as soon as the funding goes, which it will do, so will the programme.

Barry Brooks: As employers we have the opportunity to shape the changes. Link your broader business developments, your internships and your apprenticeships and create a coherent development programme. I believe that in the next two to three years the UKCES models currently being tested out are destined to be the prime means of securing and sustaining workplace training and skills development. This is the time for you to take hold of this opportunity, shape it and make it work for you, your business and your workforce.

Jeffrey Lee: We’re looking at an internal training scheme and we’re going around all the different parts of the business to understand and appreciate how different parts of the business works. I think it will be a good retention tool. Barry Brooks: We return to the EOPs and ensuring that at least some of them explore and streamline this alignment. Of course, if what Judith was suggesting comes about, that is the funding coming through National Insurance or Tax, we could see the Company FD rather than the HR Director overseeing workforce development. Either way, if we are seeking sustainability you can’t have a disconnect or a dysfunctional relationship with an organisation’s HR practice.

So should Government hand over the funding reins to employers? Also, are employers really best placed to determine the training agenda and self-appraise?

Laila Saif: It depends on whether employers are ready and have the capacity to take that on board. For example, I see some organisations have hired an apprenticeship manager, whereas others have it run as a project and don’t have the resources to take on the extra work. If employers did have the capacity they would be more than happy to get on board but that said, it’s very important to define what it would entail and the commitment required.

Stuart Hales: The last thing Boards want is bad PR, so there is an inherent risk here, because businesses would get audited. But of course, training isn’t just about numbers, it’s not about how many apprentices get certificated. The success of training isn’t about numbers, it’s not about how many apprentices get certificated, it’s about the transformation of the individual and the company.

Pierre de Carteret: I hear people say it’s got a clear ROI for the business, so why would the Government need to fund that then? Perhaps Government money would be better spent preparing school leavers with the skills necessary to enter the workplace.

Stuart Hales: Working with diverse employers, we’re very wary of working with employees who we think are only interested because it’s free. If somebody comes to us and starts saying “we’re doing it because it’s free, we know there’s no longevity in the project and therefore we’re not particularly interested in getting involved in it. If an employer wants zero cost to them, probably as soon as the funding goes, which it will do, so will the programme.

Barry Brooks: As employers we have the opportunity to shape the changes. Link your broader business developments, your internships and your apprenticeships and create a coherent development programme. I believe that in the next two to three years the UKCES models currently being tested out are destined to be the prime means of securing and sustaining workplace training and skills development. This is the time for you to take hold of this opportunity, shape it and make it work for you, your business and your workforce.

Read more Roundtable Reports – click here.

If you would like to sponsor a debate, please click here for more details.