Plans outlined in a new Government report to reform apprenticeship training provision mirrors a successful initiative being run by Barnsley College and One Barnsley Strategic Group in the local area.

Barnsley College is ahead of Government in their plans to recruit apprentices into employment in the local area, having implemented their Apprenticeship Pledge initiative in 2013. The Pledge has been working in partnership with employers to promote the recruitment of apprentices across the region and aims to get companies to commit to employing at least 2.5% of their workforce into apprenticeship positions.

The Pledge initiative was launched during Apprenticeship Week, two years before the Government’s strategy to change the way apprenticeships are run and urge companies to employ 2.3% of their workforce as apprentices was announced. It was launched by Barnsley College and One Barnsley, a strategic partnership group which works collaboratively with Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, Berneslai Homes, South Yorkshire Police, South Yorkshire Fire Service, Stagecoach Bus, Jobcentre Plus, and Voluntary Action Barnsley. 

To date, over 450 businesses have signed the Pledge, including the members of One Barnsley and the likes of XPO Logistics, Merlinsoft Ltd, NPS Barnsley, Billington Structures and Naylors Industries PLC. Collectively, the pledgees have employed over 900 apprentices, with 68% of these employers having already reached or exceeded the workforce goal of 2.5%.

Christopher Webb, Principal and Chief Executive of Barnsley College, said: “The college is proud to be working together with employers, including those in the public sector, to create more opportunities for our young people through the Apprenticeship Pledge initiative. By forming these partnerships, we are ensuring our students receive the skills employers need to enable them to grow, and Barnsley to become a centre of economic growth while also addressing the predicted skills shortage.”

The Pledge has exceeded its objectives to grow apprenticeships, increase employment opportunities and develop a qualified workforce in Barnsley. Working with companies across all industries, including SMEs and international corporations, the Pledge has a far reaching and long lasting effect with those involved. It is testament to the ongoing strategy to strengthen the economy in the area and all of the businesses involved. It encompasses the Government’s plans to build a stronger workforce by having a percentage of those in employment being in apprenticeship roles.

Stephen Wragg, Chairman of Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Apprenticeship Pledge has brought so much to businesses across all sectors in Barnsley and we’ve certainly seen the benefits of being involved. It is an initiative which is ahead of the curve and we’re proud to be a part of it. Working alongside training providers like Barnsley College, we are constantly developing the Trust in Barnsley to ensure the services and care are the very best.”

The Government published the 2020 Vision: English Apprenticeships in December, outlining the targets and goals for the plans which will apply to companies with over 250 employees. The targets will begin to come into force in 2016. 

Mr Cameron said: “We will make every part of the public sector – from Whitehall to Local Government, the NHS to the police – ensure that apprenticeships form at least 2.3.% of their staff, helping us to deliver the skills young people need, and the workforce of the future.”

There will be particular focus in raising the number of apprenticeships in public sector roles, including those in the NHS, the Police, and Fire services. Currently, 75% of apprentices work in the private sector compared to the 16% working in public services and 9% in the voluntary sector. 

The college is aiming to expand and continue the collaborative work with partners across the region .To sign up to the Apprenticeship Pledge initiative or for more information, contact Barnsley College’s Work Based Learning Team on +44 (0)1226 216 166, email employer@barnsley.ac.uk, or visit www.barnsley.ac.uk.

Last updated: 14th January 2016

Originally posted on: 14th January 2016