The Workforce Development Manager introduced the report, outlining that reorganisation within the Council had affected the apprenticeship programme. In the reporting period the programme had grown, but not as much as managers would have liked, mainly due to internal restructures and staff churn. Good statistics in terms of equal opportunities and diversity within the programme were highlighted, and the team were looking, with other local Councils, to try and change the way Government levies were dealt with, in order to potentially use these in future to recruit and pay salaries, as well as training for the Apprentice programme.
Members asked why there were not stronger apprenticeships links with Slough Children First, the Workforce Development Manager explained that there had been much contact with SCF, but as yet no apprenticeships, and while the Council could promote the programme there may be other more attractive options to potential candidates.
Several Members also suggested instigating or improving links with local employers, eg on Slough Trading Estate, to promote the apprenticeship programme, and also advertising the apprenticeship programme more widely, for example in local temples and churches, and also potentially on a local radio station. The Workforce Development Manager agreed that these were options the team would explore further.
Questions on funding and government levies were also raised, and it was explained that the levies provided for the apprenticeship programme were ring-fenced and currently could only be used for training activity, any unused funds were automatically returned. However the Workforce Development Manager explained he was working on a paper proposing the option to offer unused levy funds to other partners in Slough for Apprenticeships, and more detail on this could be shared in due course.
The point that the Council had a duty to those undertaking apprenticeships, to give them the best offer possible, was raised, and the Workforce Development Manager agreed, adding that all applications were vetted to ensure everything was in place for the apprentices. Training was funded by government levies, but various factors had meant that resource pressure had been great and teams could not always afford to release staff one day a week to undertake apprenticeships.
At the conclusion of the discussion the report was noted.
Resolved – that details of the report be noted.