Public Sector Apprenticeship Target Submission (1 April 2020– 31 March 2021)

Section1: Data Publication

Figure Description Headcount FTE
Figure A Number of employees whose employment began in the reporting period (i.e. 1 April 2020 – 31 March 2021) 992 650
Figure B Number of apprentices who began to work in that period and whose apprenticeship agreements also began in that period 117 112
Figure C Number of employees employed at the end of that period (i.e. 31st March 21) 8605 6550
Figure D Number of apprentices at the end of that period (31 March 2021) 180 169
Figure E Figure B expressed as a percentage of figure A 11.8% 17.2%
Figure F Figure D expressed as a percentage of figure C 2.1% 2.6%
Figure G Number of apprentices who worked immediately before that period (i.e. 31 March 20) 169 158
Figure H Headcount on the day before the reporting period ( 31 March 2020) 8568 6438
Figure I Figure B expressed as a percentage of figure H 1.4% 1.7%

 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.
  • 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.
  • Discussions with Service Areas, linked to workforce planning, identifying opportunities to utilise apprenticeships to aid recruitment, retention, workforce development, career pathways and succession planning.
  • Continuing development of apprenticeship opportunities for Care Experienced Young People.
  • Continuing support provided to the SEND apprentices and ongoing development of the programme.
  • Continuing to change existing staff training to apprenticeships, where appropriate. Working alongside Service Areas to implement new apprenticeship programmes for existing staff in areas including Occupational Therapy, Adult Care and Health, and Payroll.
  • Working with Service Areas to identify future opportunities to use apprenticeships for new and existing staff, e.g. Social Worker apprenticeships within Adults and Childrens, and Audit apprenticeships.
  • Continuing to use levy transfer to support apprentice starts for staff in organisations in our supply chain, particularly the health and social care provider market through links with Proud to Care within the Community, completing apprenticeships in Leadership and Management, Adult Care Worker and Children, Young People and Families Practitioner/Manager.
  • Attendance at virtual careers/apprenticeship events to promote opportunities, including activities during National Apprenticeship Week
  • 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.
  • Initial 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 created and communications planned to schools in the next levy year.

Challenges from last year and actions taken this year:

  • Training Providers – previously experienced difficulties in finding providers for the new standards, however through our links with local training provider network we have been able to locate providers for the standards required.
  • Procurement – continual development of the procurement arrangements, which has continued into this levy year. Details in the challenges section below.
  • Apprenticeships in Schools – as mentioned above, we are actioning 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 to the pandemic, with staff being redeployed and priorities being changed. Although we have managed to maintain similar apprenticeship numbers from the previous levy year and have seen an increase in our public sector target percentage, we were unable to develop as many opportunities as we were hoping to.

Numbers of applications for Levy transfer apprenticeships have reduced this year and have been very low since the start of the pandemic. We assume that organisations are reluctant or unable to release staff to undertake apprenticeships as they have been under pressure responding to Covid 19. In addition to this, 76 of the Council’s Foundation and Voluntary Aided Schools are impacted by the current Pooled PAYE issue and therefore the Council has been unable to set up levy transfers to some of these schools to support apprenticeship training and funding.

Procurement – our previous procurement solution (the Nottingham City Council DAAP) ceased at the end of September 2020, which meant we had to source alternative provision. This was quite resource intensive and diverted resource from other apprenticeship activity. We have now implemented a new procurement process (the Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation apprenticeship framework) as of February 2021.

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 197 starts, however if FTE was used, this would decrease to 148 starts. We achieved 1.4% of our headcount as apprentice starts, but this rises to 1.7% if based on FTE. This is the same as the previous years and will continue to be a challenge for DCC.

Schools – There are 122 Community and Voluntary Controlled Schools under our levy, which equates to 87 of the 197 apprentice starts required. This year schools achieved 0.4% of the schools’ target, whereas for non-schools 2.1% 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 schools 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?

  • 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.
  • Introduction of the Kickstart programme, to provide a pathway for young people into Step In apprenticeships.
  • Continued 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.
  • Continued involvement in Trailblazer groups to design new standards or review current standards, e.g. our ROVIC service 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 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.
  • 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) 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 463 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). We are proud of our apprenticeship achievements to date and are committed to continue building on our successes and expanding opportunities further.