Public Sector Apprenticeship Target Submission (1 April 2021 – 31 March 2022)

Section1: Data publication

Figure Description Headcount FTE
A Number of employees whose employment began in the reporting period (i.e. 1 April 2021- 31 March 2022) 1230 918
B Number of apprentices who began to work in that period and whose apprenticeship agreements also began in that period 130 122
C Number of employees employed at the end of that period (31 March 2022) 8525 6601
D Number of apprentices at the end of that period (31 March 2022) 180 170
E Figure B expressed as a percentage of figure A 10.6% 13.3%
F Figure D expressed as a percentage of figure C 2.1% 2.6%
G Number of apprentices who worked immediately before that period (31 March 2021) 174 165
H Headcount on the day before the reporting period (31 March 2021) 8605 6550
I Figure B expressed as a percentage of figure H 1.5% 1.9%

Section 2: Apprenticeship activity return

What actions have you taken this year to meet the target? How do these compare to the actions taken in the previous year?

Actions taken this year

  • Continued development and promotion of Step In (for new recruits) and Next Step (for existing staff) apprenticeship programmes.
  • Discussions with service areas, linked to workforce planning, identifying opportunities to utilise apprenticeships to aid recruitment, retention, workforce development, career pathways and succession planning.
  • Use of the Apprenticeship Incentives as part of the Chancellor’s Plan for Jobs to assist service areas to recruit new apprentices into the organisation. Alongside the creation of resources and support for managers recruiting and inducting virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Continuing to develop apprenticeship opportunities for Care Experienced Young People.
  • Continuing support provided to the SEND apprentices and ongoing development of the programme.
  • Continuing to link with service areas to identify future opportunities to use apprenticeships for new and existing staff and working alongside service areas to implement new apprenticeship programmes.
  • Continuing to use levy transfer to support apprentice starts for staff in organisations in our supply chain. Utilising the new levy pledge system to support employers in the care sector and education/childcare sector in Devon.
  • Further actions taken toward progressing the recommendations received from the LGA through the ESFA/LGA’s Apprenticeship Accelerator Programme to help increase school engagement and participation in apprenticeships. Guidance documents developed and regular communications to schools continuing.
  • Introduction of the Kickstart programme, providing a pathway for young people into Step In apprenticeships.
  • Attendance at virtual careers/apprenticeship events to promote opportunities, including activities during National Apprenticeship Week.
  • Active engagement in the South-West Region of the Employer and Apprentice Apprenticeship Ambassador Network (AAN). One of our apprentices is the current Regional Apprentice Chair of the South-West Apprentice Ambassador Network and another apprentice is the Devon County Lead.
  • Continued engagement with the Enterprise Advisor Network (EAN) and Local Enterprise Partnership Careers Hub regarding Cornerstone Employer activity.
  • Continued engagement in national apprenticeship promotion; this year we were awarded the SEND Apprenticeship Champion Award at the AAC Apprenticeship Awards 2021, the Large Business Award at the Radio Exe/Exeter College Employer Apprenticeship Awards 2021, and the Macro Employer of the Year Award for the Southwest Region of the National Apprenticeship Awards 2021.

Challenges from last year and actions taken this year

  • Covid-19 pandemic – This challenge is still ongoing (as detailed in the challenges section below).
  • Levy transfer – reduced numbers of applications for Levy transfer apprenticeships last year. We have utilised the new levy transfer pledge system introduced this year, which has increased levy transfers. In addition to this, 72 of the Council’s Foundation and Voluntary Aided Schools are impacted by the current Pooled PAYE issue and therefore the Council were unable to set up levy transfers to some of these schools to support apprenticeship training and funding. This issue is still ongoing (as detailed in the challenges section below).
  • Apprenticeships in schools – as mentioned above, we are continuing to action some of the recommendations provided by the LGA to explore how we can widen participation, as well as providing continued support to schools accessing the levy.

What challenges have you faced this year in your efforts to meet the target? How do these compare to the challenges experienced in the previous year?

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has provided a challenge to the Council’s efforts to meet the public sector target. Service areas have been fully involved in the response and recovery from the pandemic, with staff being redeployed and priorities being changed. Both working and learning started to move from sole virtual/remote delivery to a more hybrid model, and teams had to adapt to ensure their current apprentices/teams were supported throughout. Although we have managed to maintain similar apprenticeship numbers over the past two years and have seen an increase in our public sector target percentage, we were unable to develop as many opportunities as we were hoping to. This is similar to the previous levy year.
  • Current recruitment climate – since the summer of 2021 there has been a large increase in the number of job vacancies being advertised nationally as well as a higher number of apprenticeship vacancies across England compared to previous years. In light of this change in the job market, we are finding that not all of our apprenticeship vacancies are being filled, which has impacted slightly on our apprentice starts.
  • We have been unable to complete any levy transfers to our 72 Foundation and Voluntary Aided Schools as they are still continuing to be impacted by the Pooled PAYE issue which stops them from setting up an Apprenticeship Service Account to access funding. This issue is still occurring from the previous levy year as no viable solution has been provided by the ESFA.
  • Headcount vs FTE – Devon County Council (DCC) has a high proportion of part-time workers so the headcount does not accurately represent the workforce and makes the target unachievable. Using headcount, DCC’s target is 198 starts, however if FTE was used, this would decrease to 151 starts. We achieved 1.5% of our headcount as apprentice starts, but this rises to 1.9% if based on FTE. This is the same as the previous years and will continue to be a challenge for DCC.
  • Schools – There are 114 Community and Voluntary Controlled Schools under our levy, which equates to 85 of the 198 apprenticeship starts required. This year schools achieved 0.8% of the schools’ target, whereas for non-schools 2.0% of the target was achieved.
    Barriers to schools include:

    • requirements of apprenticeships, particularly the need for 20% off the job training.
    • high proportion of part-time employees, so the target does not accurately reflect the workforce and schools are less willing to utilise apprenticeships for those working less than 30 hours per week, because of the increased duration.
    • low level of awareness in schools of appropriate standards and how to utilise them in the school’s workforce
    • many schools are experiencing reduced funding (due to the funding formula for schools in Devon) and need to make redundancies. This also places additional pressure on the resource available to explore and implement apprenticeships.

This is the same as the previous year and will continue to be a challenge for DCC.

How are you planning to meet the target in future? What will you continue to do or do differently?

  • Continued discussions with service areas, linked to workforce planning, to identify opportunities to utilise apprenticeship qualifications to aid recruitment, retention, workforce development, career pathways and succession planning.
  • Continuing to offer our successful Step In apprenticeship programmes, utilising new approved apprenticeship standards where possible.
  • Continued expansion of the Next Step programme to encourage more existing staff members to undertake apprenticeship qualifications, including working with service areas to identify and develop career pathways and promoting Next Step apprenticeships as part of our learning and development offer.
  • Continuing to identify ring-fenced apprenticeship opportunities for Care Experienced Young People through our Step Forward Employability Programme.
  • Continuing to identify supported apprenticeship opportunities for individuals with additional learning needs, through linking with local colleges.
  • Enabling opportunities for Step In apprentices to secure employment in the Council, thereby maximising the impact of apprenticeships across the council through the retention of apprentices within the workforce.
  • Supporting individuals on the Kickstart programme, to provide a pathway for young people into Step In apprenticeships.
  • Providing a pathway into Step In apprenticeships for individuals completing T Levels.
  • Continued involvement in Trailblazer groups to design new standards or review current standards, e.g. our Children’s Sensory Team are involved in the review of the Rehabilitation Worker standard.
  • Continued development of leadership and management apprenticeship cohorts aligned to our wider leadership development work.
  • Continued development of Social Worker and Occupational Therapy apprenticeship cohorts.
  • Continued implementation of the procurement process and engagement with local providers to ensure we have training providers available to deliver the qualifications we need, in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Continuing to engage with organisations in our supply chain (particularly through our links with Proud to Care and Early Years) to seek expressions of interest to receive funds for apprenticeships via levy transfer. Continuing to explore ways our levy transfers can make a difference to Devon.
  • Continuing to lobby the ESFA for a viable solution to the Pooled PAYE issue affecting apprenticeship funding in our Voluntary Aided and Foundation Schools.
  • Engaging with schools to promote apprenticeships and what is available, through more communications and actioning the recommendations from the LGA report.
  • Continuing to engage with our Members and senior leaders so that the use of apprenticeships remains high on their agenda.

Do you have anything else you want to tell us? (optional)

(For local authorities this could include commenting on how schools and fire services in your control have contributed to the target)

Since the introduction of the levy and Public Sector target in April 2017, Devon County Council has achieved 595 apprentice starts across our Step In (new recruits), Next Step (existing staff) and schools apprenticeship programmes.

We are continuing to pay due regard to the Public Sector target, achieving an average of 1.2% of our headcount as apprentice starts over the first four years of the levy (2017-2021) and 1.5% for the 1-year target (2021-2022).

We are proud of our apprenticeship achievements to date and are committed to continue building on our successes and expanding opportunities further.