Making Apprenticeships Work Employer Conference

The Making Apprenticeships Work conference, held on 2nd March 2016 and hosted by City & Guilds and its Industry Skills Board, brought over 100 different employers together to share, debate and discuss the apprenticeship reforms.
Making Apprenticeships Work Employer Conference


View The Delegate List

> Read FAQs from conference

> Read the letter sent to Nick Boles, BIS, following the conference

> Annex to the letter: Concerns raised by Employers at Making Apprenticeships


View speaker presentations

> Roger Philby, Chemistry Group

> Quality presentations

> Julie Braithwaite, BIS


Numerous findings emerged from the conference:

  • Nine out of ten employers saw the 3 million target as just a number and not important to them. Furthermore, the vast majority (84%) of employers believe that if targets are set, they should be directly linked to the sectors experiencing the biggest skills shortages
  • The introduction of the levy payment was divisive – two thirds of employers attending the conference were only a little aware or unaware of how the payment would affect them and the jury is still out on whether it will encourage more apprenticeship take up. Just over half (53%) said the payment wouldn’t encourage them to take on more apprentices while 47% believed it would
  • The way the levy payment will be administered was called into question, with concern that by making the cash back to employers virtual, this will act as a disincentive to employers to increase their apprenticeship numbers. Many employers at the conference questioned whether the introduction of the levy would mean the end of their own excellent in-house training programmes as finance directors look to cut costs in other areas
  • There was concern among delegates that local providers would not meet the standards required and a desire to be able to choose from a wide range of providers, rather than continue with today’s system of appointing a lead provider who then subcontracts
  • Employers saw the biggest challenge with regards to the actual delivery of apprenticeship programmes and ensuring quality experiences for apprentices, as being recruitment and on-the-job training. Much discussion was had about how to give existing employees training to be able to act as mentors and teachers for apprentices


Kirstie Donnelly

Following the conference, Kirstie Donnelly, Managing Director of City & Guilds and the host of the Making Apprenticeships Work conference, commented:

The commitment to apprenticeships was clear throughout the conference. However, we would urge Government to think carefully about making the new system as simple as possible for employers. There are still so many questions around how the new system will work, from the levy to inspection and the various governance boards being created. With the entire system being overhauled there is a real opportunity to make it one that opens doors for apprentices and employers rather than puts up barriers.”

An overriding message that came up throughout the day was the need to see apprenticeships as good for business. Viewed in this way, employers will be able to truly make use of apprenticeships as a way of feeding their talent pipeline. As Anthony Impey, CEO and Founder of Optimity and a member of the Industry Skills Board put it: "Apprenticeships are not CSR, they are a great way of widening the talent pool and make good business sense.”


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