What do large employers want from skills policy and apprenticeships?

January 20, 2020

Recorded with keynote speakers at the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) Annual Conference, #SkillsWorld presenter and FAB Chief Executive, Tom Bewick, speaks to Sharon Blyfield, Head of Apprenticeships and Early Careers at Coca Cola Enterprises Ltd. and Lucy Hunte, National Programme Manager – Apprenticeships, at Health Education England, (NHS).

The podcast explores what it is like for two large Apprenticeship Levy Paying employers to work with England’s skills-system: colleges, training providers, awarding organisations and government bodies. Sharon and Lucy give a frank assessment of the apprenticeship reforms and make suggestions of how the Levy could be improved for both large and small employers in future.

The NHS in England employs 1.2 million staff. Each NHS Trust, which operate as quasi-autonomous business units, can employ up to 15,000 people in a particular geographic area. The Apprenticeship Levy paid by NHS England is in excess of £200 million.

Meanwhile, the iconic brand, Coca Cola, employs over 4000 staff in the UK. Both these major employers — public and private — have a huge stake in ensuring that the country’s education and skills system works efficiently and effectively.

Commenting on the current system, Sharon Blyfield, said:

“It can be a minefield… We rely on training providers to tell us what is the right qualification. With that comes its own set of challenges. Because we will always question: why is this the right qualification? What is it going to give Coca Cola? What is it going to deliver for the individual and why do they need that particular qualification?”

Lucy Hunte added:

“I cannot understand why IfATE is not allowing entry-level apprenticeship roles like Level 2 in Business Administration, unless it is because they know the numbers will be huge, meaning less surplus Levy to use.”

On quality assurance of apprenticeships, the current system of multiple regulators checking on quality was described as “ludicrous”. Both representatives of these large employers said they would support a “single overarching body” for quality assurance of apprenticeships.

Listen to the latest #SkillsWorld podcast here.