The Apprenticeship Target

The Apprenticeship Levy came into force on 6 April 2017 and was introduced by the Government in order to address the shortage of skilled workers in the UK, by increasing the number of apprenticeship opportunities offered by employers.

The public sector apprenticeship target was introduced by government in April 2017 in accordance with The Public Sector Apprenticeship Targets Regulations 2017.

The public sector target was introduced in April 2017 and applies to any public sector employer with at least 250 employees. The Target requires public sector employers to employ an average of 2.3% of their organisation’s headcount as new apprentice starts each year between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2021.  The target (headcount) includes council employees and staff working in schools which are under the control of Trafford Council.

So is it an average target or an annual one?

It’s an average target over the four-year period, but it is important to understand what this does and doesn’t mean in practice.

The public sector target is in effect an aggregated target, with employers able to average out their performance over the four year period.

Employers do not have to meet a target annually, but they do have to calculate what 2.3% of their workforce looks like on 31 March of each of the four years in the reporting period. These four figures are then added together to calculate the total target. This figure represents the total number of apprenticeship starts that an employer should aim for by the end of the four year period. Delivery against this target can be averaged out over the four year period to manage peaks and troughs in recruitment.

As a public sector body in scope of this target, we must ‘have regard’ to the target and submit a report annually to Government, by 30 September, on progress in meeting the target.

The Government considers the duty to “have regard” to the target to mean that in making workforce planning decisions, we should actively consider apprenticeships, either for new recruits or as part of career development for existing employees.

In addition to the data return, we're also required to publish some information about their progress made towards meeting the target.

Number of employees and apprentices who work in England

EmployeesTotal

Number of employees who were working in England on 31 March 2019

4220

Number of employees who were working in England on 31 March 2020

4932

Number of new employees who started working for you in England between 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020

712

Apprentices Total

Number of apprentices who were working in England on 31 March 2019

176

Number of apprentices who were working in England on 31 March 2020

250

Number of new apprentices in England between 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 (includes both new hires and existing employees who started an apprenticeship)

74

Percentage of apprentices

Indicator%

Apprenticeship starts (both new hires and existing employees who started an apprenticeship) as a proportion of employment starts between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020

10.39%

Total headcount of employees that were apprentices on 31 March 2020

4.85 %

Apprenticeship starts (both new hires and existing employees who started an apprenticeship) between 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 as a proportion of total headcount on 31 March 2019

1.75%

Progress towards the target:

Trafford Council does not have to meet a target annually, but we do have to calculate what 2.3% of our workforce looks like on 31 March of each of the four years in the reporting period (2017 to 2021) based on headcount. These four figures are then added together to calculate the total target.  Delivery against this target is averaged out over the four year period to manage peaks and troughs in recruitment.

The target is based on headcount and where public sector organisations employ a large percentage of part time staff which we do here at Trafford this does not reflect capacity and inflates the target.  If Trafford Councils target was based on full time equivalent (FTE) in the same reporting periods the Council would have exceeded its target as follows:

Total FTE of employees that were apprentices on 31 March 2020

11.22%

Apprenticeship starts (both new hires and existing employees who started an apprenticeship) between 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 as a proportion of total FTE on 31 March 2019

3.32%

Actions towards meeting the apprenticeship target in the future

We have continued to use cohorts to successfully recruit groups of apprentice starts in our catering services and offered the Associate Project Manager level 4 apprenticeship standard for the first time. In February 2020 we held a successful assessment process to recruit six apprentice starts for our 2nd Social Work Degree apprenticeship cohort, due to start there apprenticeship in March 2020. The tirelessly work to promote our apprentice offer to our schools has continued including attending School Business Manager meetings regularly, presenting at the bi-monthly HR schools update sessions and offering individual school visits to discuss what apprenticeships would suit there staff members. This has led to our first enrolment on the level 6 Teaching apprenticeship.

The redesigning of our entry level application form with our recruitment team has led to an increase in applications for our entry level apprentices. The resigned form ensures the capture of all the necessary information whilst showcasing how an apprenticeship can be used to help develop skills and knowledge for employees of any age. We accepted the opportunity to partake in the LGA Apprenticeship Action Learning groups focusing on workforce development, this has enabled us to work with a number of other local authorises and see how they have utilised there levy. This has allowed us to start to write a paper on improving our offer which will be presented to our Corporate Leadership Team later this year.

The apprenticeship lead for the Council has applied and been successful in becoming a North West Employer Apprentice Ambassador, this has allowed us to see how other employers in different sectors are using their levy and inform our future work. This year we have recruited our first Care leaver to a flexible apprenticeship in our virtual schools team. This is allowing the care leaver to gain a qualification whilst taking into account issues they may be facing in their personal life. We have also offered a Care Leaver who wanted to gain some work experience before undertaking an apprenticeship a 12 week paid work placement. This has allowed her to experience the world of work before she undertakes an apprenticeship. This has so far been a success and it is hoped she will start an apprenticeship with us in early summer 2020.

During National Apprenticeship Week we offered an interactive fun week which offered case studies to promote our external and internal apprenticeship offer. We held our first job swap for one of our current entry level apprentices who spent a day during the week at a local job centre; we in turn hosted a management apprentice from the job centre. We also celebrated everyone who had completed an apprenticeship since the start of the levy. Another entry level apprentice spend the day shadowing an employee at a local university. We have continued to participate on the GMCA Apprenticeship Operational Group to share good practice and identify strategies to increase the number of apprenticeships and maximise the levy spend, alongside attending the LGA roadshow events.