Report of the Deputy Leader of the Council.
The Senior HR Officer outlined the four principal benefits and purposes for providing apprenticeships at South Kesteven District Council (SKDC).
a) To support Learning and Development and increase the capability of existing staff.
b) Provide succession planning for areas where recruiting was difficult.
c) Increase the capacity of teams in order to meet the council’s objectives.
d) To enhance engagement with residents, local businesses and educational establishments in order to highlight the changing nature of apprenticeships and local government careers in South Kesteven.
The Committee was informed that the Government had stipulated that public sector organisations with over 250 employees should have a target of around 2.3% of their headcount undertaking apprenticeships. This equated to an annual target of 13.5 apprentices at SKDC. The Council currently had 10 apprentices in post, 3 of these had completed their apprenticeship training and were awaiting final assessment.
As part of regular business partner meetings HR work with managers to put in place succession plans.
Six apprenticeships were due to start in quarter three in the following areas:
i) 3 Long Goods Vehicles Driving apprenticeships for developing loader operations in Street Scene
ii) 2 Town Planning Apprentice Degrees
iii) 1 Building Control Surveying Degree.
Over the last few years the Council had taken a more proactive approach to apprenticeships which meant there had been a substantial change in the type of apprenticeships SKDC could now offer to new and existing employees. Previously, the majority of apprenticeships focussed on Customer Service and Business Administration at level 2 and 3 for Customer Services and Revenues and Benefits sections. The exception had been 3 trade apprenticeships in Repairs and Improvements for Bricklaying and formal Electrician training.
Since 2017 better engagement and relationships had been developed with local education providers such as; Grantham College, Boston College, Lincoln University and Sheffield Hallam University as well as other national training providers. This had enabled a wider offer of apprenticeships and opportunities for job specific development and succession planning, whilst still providing apprenticeships for vacancies in areas such as Customer Services.
Apprenticeships in ICT, Team Leadership (ILM level3), Chartered Management (degree level) and CIMA Accounting had also been available at degree level over the past two years. The Staff Survey had identified a lack of opportunities in the Street Scene department. Introducing apprenticeships for HGV drivers would provide an opportunity for staff to develop their careers and help the Council recruit to positions that were difficult to fill. The HR team now regularly attended networking sessions arranged by East Midlands Councils where best practices and ideas were shared.
Members discussed the utilisation of local universities, such as Lincoln and queried whether week long courses could be available which could also provide appropriate training. The Committee was informed that discussions were being held with Lincoln University about day courses being undertaken in a more local environment such as the Cinema which would provide access to people in Grantham. A proposal was anticipated over the next couple of weeks. A number of alternative courses were already taking place such as university evening workshops, networking with both public and private organisations, accidental manager courses which provided a strong managerial grounding and exposure to broader learning and networking experiences.
Further clarification was sought regarding the apprenticeship topics and comment was made that apprenticeships would also be required to provide a means of filling areas that were difficult to recruit to such as planning.
Members also discussed the figures for apprentice retention and were informed that out of the 30 apprentices, one had left the organisation due to not completing the course and two apprentices had applied for one position but only could be successful. A total of two apprentices had left the organisation.
The Employment Committee Agreed that:
a) Following consideration of the report, the current expansion of the diverse type of apprenticeships offered by the Council was endorsed, and
b) The Committee looked forward to receiving a report setting out the Council’s Apprenticeship Activity at a future meeting.