Low cost but timely and profound interventions can prove to be worth ‘more than their weight in gold’. BEEP (Business Empowering Employment Programme) and REEP (Rugby Empowering Employment Programme) its forerunner can convert an initial investment of £550 to a potential saving of over £1 million in one generation.
Although, we may prefer to believe in the power of BEEP because it replaces despair with hope, confidence and potential, and alleviates inequality, we know that being able to make the economic case for ‘spending to save’ will win more support for BEEP. For this reason, and with help from Joe Walsh at Exeter City Council, we have developed a spreadsheet to calculate the cost of a variety of scenarios which illustrate ‘Spend to Save’. In order to do this we have made assumptions which are founded on information from reliable sources.
Young people who had struggled to find their way on to the training or work ladder, have through BEEP, together with support from their volunteer mentors, secured training and moved on to work which will benefit themselves, their communities and the local economy. The future looks positive for our apprentice bricklayer, our apprentice classroom assistant and our IT technician. But what if £550 hadn’t been spent and they had not been helped through the BEEP programme and by the volunteer mentors?
Joe says “By providing these individuals [BEEP mentees] with routes to employment the financial dependency on the state is considerably reduced and the money they earn will often be spent in the local economy on day to day goods and services.”
To find out more about BEEP how you can contribute and make ‘Spend to Save’ a reality please visit the BEEP website
Korneel Verhaeghe – Partnership Development Officer from the University of Exeter writes:
This April marked the start of the new apprenticeship levy. Charged at 0.5% of payroll costs for UK employers with a wage bill of over £3 million, the Levy is part of the government’s commitment to create 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020. This creates new and interesting opportunities for organisations both large and small to recoup their costs or take advantage of government funding by hiring apprentices.
The University of Exeter has responded to this new opportunity with its pioneering BSc Digital and Technology Solutions degree apprenticeship launched in 2016, and more programmes on the horizon for 2017 and 2018.
A 2016 report showed the average UK student finishes their degree with £44,000 of debt, making degree apprenticeships a welcome opportunity for many talented and enterprising students looking to gain a degree without the burden of tuition fees. Through programmes of 4-5 years in duration, apprentices will gain a wealth of professional experience, earn a salary and enhance their lifelong career prospects. For employers, this offers new opportunities to attract high-calibre students while embedding them in the culture of your business, building loyalty and supporting growth.
This trailblazing programme at the University is benefitting from a mix of students and companies, ranging from IBM, Renishaw and the Met Office to smaller businesses such as Beran Instruments and Aspidistra Software.
“The combination of residential and remote learning, allows our degree apprentices to combine university studies with a real role at IBM. We’re confident they are learning valuable digital skills and look forward to seeing how much they will achieve.”
Charlotte Fisher Morecroft; IBM
The programme is delivered through a unique model of residentials and online study, created in such a way as to minimise the impact on apprentices’ roles in the workplace. Students travel from across the country to the Exeter campus twice a year for several days to kick-start new modules, while the rest of the year is taught through online learning and lectures. Recognising the value of the extensive real-wold experience gained by apprentices, approximately one third of credit towards the degree apprenticeship is assessed through work-based learning.
“As a business we really value the blended learning element of the course which allows our apprentices to take full advantage of the earn as you learn element of an apprenticeship.”
Emma Portman; Renishaw PLC
Students on the Digital and Technology Solutions programme go through 2 years of core teaching, before taking modules relating to the specialist role-related pathway they are appointed to. They graduate as either a Software Engineer, IT consultant, Business Analyst, Cyber Security Analyst, Data Analyst or Network Engineer.
Throughout their course apprentices are assigned a mentor in the organisation and an academic mentor from the University, allowing for close monitoring of their progress, academic and pastoral needs.
“We have found the Apprenticeship Programme to be very well structured, with ample support and information being provided at all stages, resulting in an enhanced learning experience, and enabling us to transfer and implement larger corporate ‘best practice’ within our smaller SME environment.
Our learners have clearly benefited from the excellent working relationships formed with a variety of professional and experienced people, both in terms of other students on the course and lecturers.”
Peter Morrish; Beran Instruments
Large and Small Companies
Companies with a wage bill over £3 million a year pay 0.5% of this (with a £15,000 exemption) into an online account on a monthly basis. They can choose to benefit from this levy by hiring apprentices, in which case the accumulated money will go towards the tuition fees.
Emma Portman, Test and Training Manager at Renishaw, has enjoyed working with the University in recent years:
“Starting an apprenticeship scheme can be a long, complicated process and even though Renishaw has a well-established degree-level software apprenticeship scheme it was with some trepidation that we embarked on our new supplier relationship with the University of Exeter. However, from the very beginning they were engaged, focused and enthusiastic. Our support team ensured that we had all of the information we needed quickly and our first cohort of apprentices joined the Digital and Technology Solutions degree successfully in September 2016.”
Companies not paying the levy can also benefit from this new system, as they will only pay 10% of the tuition fees, while the Government covers the remaining 90%. This provides smaller companies with a great and affordable way to grow their workforce, whether in number or in skill. Based on the BSc Degree Apprenticeship’s tuition fees of £27,000 over 4 years; this means small companies only pay £2,700 (10%); or £675 per year; to hire a new apprentice or to develop an already existing employee.
Beran Instruments, based in North Devon, currently has 1 student on the programme and has decided to hire another apprentice for the September 2017 intake. The company website boasts of their past success in hiring apprentices, some of which have now proceeded to managerial positions.
Peter Morrish, who joined the company in 1990 as an apprentice and is now a key member of the senior management team, cherishes the benefits of the degree apprenticeship on both the company and the student level:
“The Company has enjoyed various benefits from being involved with Exeter University’s Apprenticeship Programme, not least of which has been the significant level of development for the trainees as they have been able to apply theoretical learning to practical work applications from Day 1. The Company also benefits from improved access to a local high quality training provider, resulting in much greater communication and collaboration between the two organisations. The industry-focused modules relate closely to key business requirements.”
The current students on the programme are very positive about the degree apprenticeship and see clear benefits to taking this route of vocational education:
“Being able to learn on the job while also learning at uni is great. As the course has progressed I’ve found that the knowledge is beginning to overlap and is reinforcing my learning on both sides. I’ve also learnt a lot about time management – you have to make sure you keep on top of everything, which at times can be challenging, like with any degree.”
The result of the degree apprenticeship programme is an experienced graduate, with a skillset moulded specifically to the needs of your business, which has shown to lead to increased loyalty to the company.
Quinten John joined Beran Instruments as an apprentice in 2011 and is currently on the IT degree apprenticeship at the University of Exeter. He explains how the programme is benefiting both him and the company:
“The flexible programme allows you to attend to work duties whilst learning in parallel, and enables you to specialise and develop particular skills to meet your own individual career aspirations and also the ongoing needs of the business.” Quinten John; Software Degree Apprentice – Beran Instruments
If you would like to explore how a degree apprenticeship can benefit your organisation, please get in touch with Partnership Development Officer Korneel Verhaeghe (01392 72 62 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org), who will gladly provide you with information and answer any questions.
“The only thing worse than training your employees and losing them, is not training your employees and keeping them.”
Cosmic are advocates when it comes to apprenticeships. We took on our very first apprentice, Ben, in 1998 and he is still a valued member of the team. Since that time, apprenticeships have changed and Cosmic have evolved their offering to suit the needs of those looking for this type of work. In 2013, Cosmic secured funding to run their very own digital apprenticeship programme, which saw us employ six young people and gave us the opportunity to provide them with a wealth of digital knowledge. The apprenticeship enabled these young people to work on a variety of areas within our business. This includes website design and development, technical support, digital marketing and training; as well as the opportunity to gain placements with a number of our partners, including Mole Valley Farmers, Yarlington Housing and Eloquent Technologies.
Since then, we have been working with the Exeter and Heart of Devon Employment and Skills Board to look at different ways in which we can offer apprenticeships. We are all aware that there is currently a skills shortage within the digital sector. Many organisations recognise the need for digital within their businesses, but do not have the expertise to support these roles or do not need these roles on a full-time basis. With this in mind, Cosmic have designed an apprenticeship model which allows other organisations to benefit from Cosmic’s digital skills and offers a more flexible approach. We have called it the ‘Carousel Apprenticeship’.
In 2016, Cosmic held talks with several members of the Exeter and Heart of Devon Employment and Skills Board around this approach and it was agreed to move forwards with two other employers: The Deer Park Hotel and River Cottage.
So how does it work? Cosmic have employed a digital marketing apprentice; Gemma Spencer, who began the new programme in February 2017. Gemma attends college for 1 day a week and works at Cosmic for 1 day a week. During that time, she focusses on learning a range of digital marketing skills. She then works 1 day at the Deer Park Hotel and 2 days at River Cottage, allowing her to apply her learning to different organisations. The businesses benefit from a skilled digital apprentice and Gemma benefits from a wide range of learning through a number of organisations.
Already, Gemma is embracing the new way of working and has grasped the opportunity with both hands. She says, “I am looking forward to this new type of apprenticeship. Being able to work with different companies such as Cosmic, The Deer Park and River Cottage is a fantastic opportunity, giving me the chance to build strong relationships and gain as much experience as possible. One of the things I am looking forward to the most is being able to experience different working platforms, and interacting with so many different people. This will teach me to keep an open mind and have multiple perspectives for each company and their brand. Every day in the week will be something new with different surroundings and I’m more than excited for the opportunity”.
Joint CEO Julie Hawker said, “Cosmic has for many years made a major commitment to its own apprenticeship programme, and has offered new opportunities and employment to local young people. This new initiative to share our passion and commitment, as well as employment of apprentices with other local employers, is a fantastic development and one which we look forward to replicating many times in the years ahead.”
Managing Director of the Deer Park, Mark Godfrey advised “Deer Park are committed to the apprenticeship scheme and are proud of what we have achieved with our partners; River Cottage, Bicton College and Exeter College. We have had 6 apprentices working with us in the last 4 years and it’s great to see them all develop and move up the employment ladder with good qualifications.
We have been lucky enough to have apprentices from Bicton in our garden department growing produce for our River Cottage apprentices to cook for our 2 Rosette restaurant served by our Front of House apprentice from Exeter College. Now that’s a great example of plot to plate and growing your own!
And now working with Cosmic and River Cottage we have the great opportunity to have a Digital Marketing Apprentice working with us one day a week under a newly developed Carousel scheme, a fantastic opportunity for Gemma….”
All partners are delighted to be running this new programme and cannot wait to report on the programme at the end of 18th month scheme. Cosmic is extremely proud of the apprenticeships they have offered over the last 19 years. They will continue to look for new innovative ways in which to reduce the skills gap and enable other organisations to embrace technology through apprenticeships.
Recently we have been discussing the complex and volatile world in which we live and work, and the increasing need for more interdisciplinary teams.
Locally, Innovation Exeter is focused on cultivating a City-region which is a world-leader in environmental data analytics. This is an interdisciplinary area and results will be achieved by exploiting the presence of the Met Office, the University of Exeter, the Science Park, the Maths School and other critical assets. STEM∗ STEMM° STEAMM℘ are top topics. Naomi Climer, the president of the Institute of Engineers, values the mix of creative and technical skills in individuals. However, the skills and personal qualities which underpin and enable interdisciplinary working in these highly technical areas are vital across all sectors and at all levels. If we are to tackle the productivity challenge and be more fulfilled individuals we need to unleash confidence, communicate effectively, collaborate meaningfully and re-discover curiosity.
Our meeting of Employers, Training Providers, Facilitators and Funders on Friday 25 November explored the theme Full STEAMM Ahead! Interdisciplinary STEAMM teams with strong collaborative abilities are the way ahead. We enjoyed presentations from and discussions with:
Eight young positive people greeted guest employers and their trained volunteer mentors at the first BEEP celebration event on Friday 21 October. Without doubt employers, mentors and the Motiv8-SW team were ‘blown away’ by the young people who have so far struggled to make positive steps towards work. Their presentations to the audience and their confidence in answering some challenging questions was impressive. These young people have gained more than the Health & Safety and First Aid Certificates they have grown in confidence, become a team, thought about their own skills and aspirations, and planned a positive future. Chelsea said “BEEP is the best programme – I felt that the team genuinely cared for me and my future … Rob (the trainer) is the best”.
These eight young people will have their trained volunteer mentors to support them from now on as they transition towards employment.
Be part of BEEP. Beep is a charity without your support more young people like these, (who are potential mechanics, barbers, hairdressers, farm workers and graphic artists), will be left behind.
Cosmic are the first of our employers to host young people on ‘World-class Work Experience’ accredited placements through Industrial Cadets as part of our pilot study. Both Bethany and Josh were awarded their Silver Level certificates which detail the programme they undertook, assure the quality of the experience against national standards and add to their sense of achievement. Cosmic believe in investing in young people and developing talent. They already run very successful and sought after work experience placements but these are the first as part of this pilot study. Thank you!
Josh Elliot-Smith from Uffculme School said:
Doing work experience at Cosmic has been a really interesting yet a challenging week for me. I’ve found throughout that I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone, and have come out the other side with new ideas and skills that I never would’ve thought I would get out of this week , and I’m sure will benefit me in the future. I would definitely recommend doing your work experience at Cosmic if you’re interested in any area of IT2.
Bethany Jacobs from Honiton Community College said:
My work experience at Cosmic has been so enjoyable. I have achieved so many new and different skills meanwhile improving in my weaker areas. Everyone has been so nice, welcoming and helpful throughout this week. I really enjoyed this week and this has given me an insight to my future. I recommend Cosmic to students wanting to develop their skills in business and IT for their work experience.
The experience of quality Work Experience is invaluable. We know that the more real-life experiences of the world-of-work young people have the less likely they are to have difficulty entering the work-place. Work Experience brings benefits to the young people, the host employers and us all in the longer -term. This pilot will consider the value of the Industrial Cadets nationally recognised accreditation to the young people and the employers.
Inspiration – Business Benefits and Positive Teams!
Ros Banfield, Equality & Employability Support Officer from Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (top left in photograph) inspired all the participants of our ‘Tap into Top Talent’ Employer Breakfast on 5th July at the lovely Hannahs, Seale Hayne. Eight young people with learning disabilities from the local area have just graduated from the ground-breaking Project SEARCH internship scheme based at Torbay Hospital. Project SEARCH aims to remove the significant barriers faced by people with learning disabilities looking for employment and has had success all over the world. The business benefits a real desire to work, enjoyment of routine tasks, low absenteeism and especially for those living with autism close attention to detail and good levels of concentration. The positive impact of Project SEARCH has spread to the teams in which the interns work where mentoring, coaching and team identity improve and people ‘just seem sunnier’. This is the fourth year it has been delivered in Torbay by South Devon College, local social enterprise Pluss and Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.
Practical Support and funding for individuals and businesses
Carolyn Horton and Jason Creed from the Department of Work and Pensions encouraged participants to consider the ‘Access to Work’ grant (up to £40,800 per year) to help with practical support to enable those with a disability to start or stay in work. The amount of the grant depends on need and eligibility but it can be used for taxi fares to work, adaptation or purchase of equipment, disability awareness training for colleagues or a workplace coach.
Marise Mackie from Pluss spoke enthusiastically about ‘Work Choice’ which is a government national programme delivered in this area by Pluss an organisation where people of all abilities are inspired and helped to achieve a career. Work Choice is for young people with disabilities between the ages of 18-24 and it can provide between £1137.50 and £2,275 per person to employers depending upon eligibility.
Thinking about Equality & Employment Law
Bethan Jones, from Michelmores provides HR support and advice on the full range of employment law issues, including unfair dismissal, redundancy, disciplinary and grievance procedures and HR policies and contracts. She was kind enough to talk about the key points to think about when employing individuals with Learning Disabilities and Difficulties and she helped to alleviate some of the concerns participants may have had.
A place where disability is incidental
Debbie Slurman from Hannahs joined us to give us a potted history of Dame Hannah Rogers Charity which was founded in 1767 in Plymouth. Evolving through time the aim has been simple: to help enrich and empower the lives of children and adults in need. Debbie was inspirational. Although she confessed to not being practiced at the art of public speaking she had all participants wanting to know more and soak up her energy.
It makes so much sense …
The Employment and Skills Board believes in a ‘local world-class workforce where every individual matters’. Apart from being the right thing to do, enabling people with Learning Disabilities and Difficulties or those living with Autism to work makes so much sense when we have almost full employment and individuals who really want to work and contribute. Marise, Carolyn and Jason endorsed everything Ros said about the benefits to the workplace, the positive responses from the wider community and jobs well done.
We are grateful to Devon County Council for funding this event and we look forward to more ‘Untapped Talent’ events and positive outcomes in other locations!
Apprenticeships for people with learning disabilities