University adopts twin approach to chronic apprentice shortage

Date 6.10.2017

Northamptonshire’s long standing apprentice shortage is to be tackled using a clever two-pronged approach, thanks to new funding awarded to the University.

In unison with the establishment of nine industry relevant courses will be a drive to recruit 500 young people who wouldn’t have otherwise considered university.

Northamptonshire currently has a lower than average uptake of apprenticeships, and businesses in key sectors are reporting that they are desperately short of the specialist skills they need.

Making use of its established links with employers, cadets and local schools and colleges, the University will develop a range of degree level apprenticeships in subjects such as engineering, computing, and health.

Simultaneously, it will also encourage cadets from groups traditionally underrepresented in universities to take this new route into education.

Simon Longhurst, Apprenticeship Manager, University of Northampton said: “This twin approach will generate both the supply of potential apprentices, and the demand for apprentices, by working with businesses to embed apprenticeships into their existing skills agendas.

“We run a number of employer forums in Northamptonshire, and local businesses of all sizes tell us they are desperately looking to recruit able young people as apprentices.”

The project will work with Cadet Force detachments in Northamptonshire and beyond, and Combined Cadet Forces in Cadet Expansion Programme academy schools, promoting apprenticeships and matching suitable candidates directly with employers.

Simon said: “Our apprenticeship scheme builds on research conducted by the University that shows that employers are looking for young people with the skills and behaviours that are already being developed by the Cadet Forces.

“The project aims to increase social mobility by encouraging and enabling talented young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to become apprentices with employers that develop them.”

Degree Apprenticeships – a relatively new development in higher education – are a combined package of work and study, with the apprentice being both employee and student.

They spend at least 30 hours a week at work, and the rest of the time studying – with their employer paying for them to ‘earn and learn’.

According to The Higher Education Funding Council for England, the courses enable the development of high-level skills, providing an alternative route to a degree and a career.

Their grant will allow the University to perform a social and economic analysis of Northamptonshire in order to focus project activity, engage with business in order to fully understand their skills needs, and develop an awareness scheme so cadets view apprenticeships as an appealing and realistic opportunity for them.

Simon said: “As a locally-focussed project, the outcomes will reflect the needs of Northamptonshire. However, it will also create a framework that other universities in other regions can use to map their regions’ skills needs, as well as resources and materials that are transferrable.”

The grant is part of a wider £4.9 million package of funding awarded to UK universities to develop almost 5000 new degree apprenticeships places for September 2018.