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The Council, Staffing and Pay

Public Sector Apprenticeship Target Submission (1 April 2019 – 31 March 2020)

Section1: Data Publication

FigureDescriptionHeadcountFTE
Figure ANumber employees whose employment began in the reporting period (i.e. April 19- March 20)620477
Figure BNumber of apprentices who began to work in that period and whose apprenticeship agreements also began in that period115108
Figure CNumber of employees employed at the end of that period (i.e. 31st March 20)91266901
Figure DNumber of apprentices at the end of that period180169
Figure EFigure B expressed as a percentage of figure A.18.5%22.6%
Figure FFigure D expressed as a percentage of figure C2.0%2.4%
Figure GNumber of apprentices who worked immediately before that period (i.e. 31st March 19)163149
Figure HHeadcount on 31st March 201994106976
Figure IFigure B expressed as a percentage of figure H1.2%1.5%

 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/promotion of Step In (for new recruits) and Next Step (for existing staff) apprenticeship programmes.
  • Attendance at careers/apprenticeship events to promote opportunities, including our first internal Careers Event in September 2019.
  • Discussions with Service Areas, linked to workforce planning, identifying opportunities to utilise apprenticeships to aid recruitment, retention, workforce development, career pathways and succession planning.
  • Expanding the apprenticeships already on offer and introducing new programmes at various levels/vocational areas including Level 5 Learning and Development, Level 4 Children, Young People and Families Practitioner, Level 3 Children and Young People’s Workforce – Early Years Educator and Level 6 Civil Engineering. Additional recruitment activity for the Office Support programme throughout the year resulting in consistent apprentice numbers in Business Administration apprenticeships.
  • Expanding apprenticeship opportunities for Care Experienced Young People.
  • Expanding supported apprenticeship opportunities for individuals with additional learning needs.
  • Continuing to change existing staff training to apprenticeships, where appropriate (e.g. Leadership and Management, Human Resources, Engineering and Accountancy apprenticeships). Working alongside Service Areas to identify future opportunities to use apprenticeships for existing staff, e.g. working with Adult Care and Health looking at offering the Level 2/Level 3 Adult Care apprenticeships to their workforce.
  • Active engagement in the South West Region of the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network/Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network (YAAN). One of our apprentices is the current Chair of the South West YAAN.
  • Continued engagement with the Enterprise Advisor Network (EAN) with two of the apprenticeship team undertaking the advisor role in local schools. Devon County Council selected as a Cornerstone Employer, linked to the EAN and Local Enterprise Partnership Careers Hub, which will lead to further promotion of the Council’s apprenticeships with local schools/colleges.
  • In September 2019 we enabled 13 levy transfer apprentice starts for staff in organisations in our supply chain within the Community, completing apprenticeships in Leadership and Management and Children, Young People and Family Manager/Practitioner qualifications.
  • Communications to schools via the school’s webpages. Secured consultancy support through the ESFA/LGA’s Apprenticeship Accelerator Programme to help increase school engagement and participation in apprenticeships. Final report received from the LGA with recommendations we will be considering alongside wider apprenticeship plans.
  • Development of working group to work on the implementation and introduction of professional apprenticeships in areas such as Social Work and Occupational Therapy.
  • Selected as South West Region Large Apprentice Employer of the Year, which will aid the positive promotion of our programme.

Challenges from last year and actions taken this year:

  • Lack of available standards – continued involvement with trailblazers (Regulatory Compliance and Business Administration Level 2 as part of a wider consultation group). When relevant new standards have been approved, communicating with training providers to plan for delivery (e.g. Children, Young People and Families Practitioner).
  • Procurement – developing processes and liaising with training providers to utilise the Nottingham City Council Approved Provider list “Directory of Approved Apprenticeship Providers” (DAAP).
  • Apprenticeships in Schools – as mentioned above, secured support from 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 experience in the previous year?

  • Apprenticeship cohorts – our apprentice starts have decreased slightly compared to the previous levy year. In the previous levy year (April 2018-March 2019) we provided a number of new apprenticeship standards that applied across the whole of the Council which allowed us to achieve large cohorts (for example in our Leadership and Management apprenticeships. Due to lack of previous opportunities to do such qualifications, a large number of apprentices joined the programme in the first year. Since then we have had fewer apprentice starts on these standards and we expect this number to remain consistent each year; however, this will be significantly lower than the first-year cohort now that the programme has been established.
  • Training Providers – Experienced difficulties in finding providers for many of the new standards (e.g. Level 3 Payroll Administrator, Level 3 Workplace Pensions, Level 4 Regulatory Compliance Officer, Level 4 Employability Practitioner). This has continued from the previous levy year.
  • Procurement – we implemented a new procurement process this year, which has been complex and time consuming. We are using the Nottingham City Council Approved Provider list “Directory of Approved Apprenticeship Providers” (DAAP), however, this is quite resource intensive and has diverted resource from other apprenticeship activity. Not all providers are signed up to the DAAP, which has also created delays in starting apprenticeships and additional workload for the team.
  • Headcount vs FTE – DCC has a high proportion of part-time workers so headcount does not accurately represent the workforce and makes the target unachievable. Using headcount, DCC’s target is 216 starts, however if FTE was used, this would decrease to 160 starts. We achieved 1.2% of our headcount as apprentice starts, but this rises to 1.5% if based on FTE. This is the same as the previous year and will continue to be a challenge for DCC.
  • Schools – There are 116 Community and Voluntary Controlled Schools under our levy, which equates to 13 of the 115 apprentice starts required. This year schools achieved 12% of the schools’ target, whereas for non-schools 95% of the target was achieved. Barriers to schools include:
    • lack of awareness in schools of appropriate standards
    • high proportion of part-timers, 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.
    • requirements of apprenticeships, particularly the need for 20% off the job training.
    • 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.

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

  • Identification of actions to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on apprentice starts, particularly for new recruits (our Step In programme), as this has to date during 2020/21 had a significant adverse impact.
  • Some areas of DCC have been involved in the Trailblazer groups to design new standards. Continued involvement in relevant trailblazers going forward.
  • Continued development of leadership and management apprenticeship cohorts aligned to our wider leadership development work.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Continuing to identify 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.
  • Looking to use Social Worker and Occupational Therapy apprenticeship standards.
  • 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 those, such as Adults and Children’s services, who support the most vulnerable in society) to seek expressions of interest to receive funds for apprenticeships via levy transfer.
  • 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 341 apprentice starts across our Step In and Next Step 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 three years of the levy. We are proud of our apprenticeship achievements to date and are committed to continue building on our successes and expanding opportunities further.