Apprenticeship programme remains on track

Last updated: 26/10/2015 10:43:50

Walsall Works Walsall Council has helped more than 500 young people to get the possible start to their careers by supporting them into high value apprenticeships, thanks to its flagship Walsall Works programme.

In a week where an Ofsted report branded some apprenticeships as ‘low on quality’ and ‘a waste of public money’, Councillors Adrian Andrew, Walsall’s Deputy Leader and Chris Towe, portfolio holder for learning skills and apprenticeships said the authority’s Walsall Works scheme is working and successfully tackling youth unemployment.

The report, launched by Sir Michael Wilshaw at the Confederation of British Industry conference in Solihull last week said that the bulk of apprenticeships have been created in low-skilled sectors such as customer service, retail, administration and care, and too few provide the advanced professional-level skills needed in sectors with shortages.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills called for “urgent, joined up action” by schools, employers and FE and skills providers to help raise the quality of all apprenticeships.

The Council’s Walsall Works programme offers learning opportunities in a number of niche sectors, including manufacturing and engineering, construction, information technology, financial, professional and business services, health and social care and others. It was first launched in 2012.

“It’s reaping dividends here in Walsall,” said Cllr Andrew.

“Youth unemployment is a serious issue. Our young people are our future and our role as a council is to open the door for businesses to create sustainable jobs and high quality apprenticeship opportunities.

“It’s only right that the Chief Inspector for Ofsted should draw attention to poor quality apprenticeship programmes, but it’s not the case in Walsall.

“We’re fortunate to have two Ofsted Outstanding colleges here on our doorstep and a number of learner providers who deliver high quality apprenticeships for young people in Walsall.

“As a council, we’ve worked with more than 700 local employers to create 520 apprenticeships through our Walsall Works programme which has helped Walsall receive the best drop in youth unemployment in The Black Country."

Councillor Towe added “I was at the Confederation of British Industry conference last Thursday and noted Sir Michael Wilshaw’s comments.

“I feel very strongly that our education system must look at the quality of information, advice and guidance being offered to young people so they can decide whether they’re making the right choices to continue in education, training or enter into an apprenticeship. I also think we must better prepare young people for life outside school so that they develop the skills, character and attitude needed to progress in life.

“Our Employment and Skills team, working in partnership with Walsall’s children’s service and their colleagues across the Black Country have now submitted their final funding application to the Department for Works and Pensions for the Youth Unemployment Initiative.

“If successful and we’re very excited about this, it will draw in £34m of funding to support young people who are not in work, education or training into apprenticeships or other job opportunities.”

Walsall Council, together with housing group whg has launched a ‘Building Better Future’s programme’ to help young people who are not in work, training or in education benefit from its Goscote regeneration scheme. More than 900 homes will be built in the Goscote area of Blakenall by March 2022.

Developer for the project, Keep Moat Homes have already taken on 13 local people in apprenticeships, with others in the pipeline.

Cllr Andrew added: "We want to make sure that high quality jobs are created not just when the buildings are complete but during their design and during construction."