Hear exclusive insights from Chris Havard – before his talk at the 2019 Apprentices and School Leavers conference
Having seen the apprenticeship market develop over the past few years you have extensive experience of what has worked well and what still needs work! How do you see the future of apprenticeships through to 2023, and what do organisations need to focus on to reach the 2023 targets set by the Institute of Apprenticeships?
There is, and has been, such confusion in the Apprentice world over the past few years, and a severe lack of knowledge and commitment from businesses to engage fully. There has been a nervousness to get involved due to the complexities of having apprentices, utilising the levy, interacting with training providers and meeting all the requirements. Things need simplifying, there needs to be better support for businesses, and training providers need to take responsibility to provide high quality provision.
Businesses are setting up support groups; there is the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network where businesses can get support, speak to other businesses to find out their challenges and wins. Only through investment from businesses in roles to oversee apprenticeships, good training provision and support from the IFA are we going to make inroads into the targets for 2023.
Many organisations looks at their early talent/apprentices programme as part of their talent strategy – is that something that you are driving at ENW?
The Apprentice programme at Electricity North West is key to our long term talent strategy. In such a technically driven environment, we have an ageing workforce and these people will soon be retiring and taking that knowledge and skills with them. The emphasis on grass roots talent at Electricity North West is to make sure that our Apprentices can learn their trade at our training academy, before learning on the job from experts in the field who can transfer these skills over the next few years, leaving a clear succession plan in place. We closely monitor workforce planning, and recruit apprentices to ensure we have the skills in place to support the electricity network and the communities and customers in our region.
How have you addressed working partnerships to get the best results?
Select the very best providers, do not take what they say at face value, and get references direct from other businesses they have worked with. What do you actually want from your provider? We have built close relationships with our providers, meeting once a month with the key people to discuss progress of the apprentice groups and what is coming up. You need to have the interest in what they are doing, challenge everything. If something isn’t right, speak to them.
Are we all prepared fully for end point assessment? What are the learnings to take on board?
Make sure you choose the right EPAO (End point Assessment Organisation). Plan and prepare for EPA. I have stories to talk about during my Apprentices and School Leavers Conference presentation on what has gone wrong with a recent EPA, however I have also stories to show what can go right if everyone is working to the same goals.
The business needs to be involved, and the apprentices need to know exactly what is required. No matter what the activity is – test, presentation, Q&A – they need to be aware well in advance and have the ability to be able to practice and be given feedback on this. It sounds very simple but many providers haven’t yet put people through EPA so don’t know what to expect, and EPAO’s are still finding their feet with what they want.