The meeting examined flexible working and apprenticeships, looking at the lessons learnt from remote apprenticeships. Jackie, alongside fellow industry speakers, discussed the challenges that apprenticeships faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how a hybrid model of working has enabled new opportunities for apprentices. She also called on Government to make changes to the Apprenticeship Levy.
All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are informal, cross-party groups formed by MPs and Members of the House of Lords who share a common interest in a particular policy area, region or country.
Although they are not official parliamentary committees, these groups can be influential because of their non-partisan and cross-party approach to an issue. In addition, the fact that APPG usually have both MPs and Peers in them makes them uniquely representative of both chambers of Parliament.
Parliamentarians interested in the education sector can join a number of APPGs, including for Further Education and Lifelong Learning, Digital Skills, Adult Education, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), and Skills, Careers and Employment, as well as this one – on Apprenticeships.
CCCT is the largest further education apprenticeship provider in London, training more than a fifth of apprentices in the capital. The APPG on Apprenticeships meeting was an excellent opportunity for Jackie to raise the profile of CCCT with MPs and Peers. With over 25 years of experience within the apprenticeships sector, Jackie shared her knowledge with to the APPGs members, giving examples of the effect of the pandemic on apprenticeships and apprentices.
The meeting was chaired by APPG Officer, Lord Alastair Aberdare, who introduced the speakers. In addition to Jackie, the session also heard from Dr Jacqueline Hall, Head of Apprenticeships and Skills, BAE Systems Plc; Sue Parr, Director of Part-time Programme and Work-based Education, Warwick Manufacturing Group, University of Warwick; and from the HomeServe Foundation, Michelle Price, Director, and Liz Slee, Research and Public Affairs Specialist.
Jackie spoke of the challenges that CCCT faced at the start of the pandemic and how they worked to overcome them – these included “learning about data poverty for the first time because although we supplied devices [with help from the Department for Education’s donations], we also had to supply broadband or mobile data to a lot of households, particularly for young apprentices – so they could actually use their device.”
CCCT adapted to the needs of the sector during the pandemic, for example in Pharmacy, where the pressures of the pandemic changed the hours and shifts of pharmacists and increased their workload, making it harder for them to support our apprentices.
“What we found is that every industry is different in terms of the pandemic, the impact on apprentices and how we had to adapt” she said.
CCCT had around 100 Pharmacy apprentices working in the NHS during the pandemic, and the programme had to be adapted into bite-sized chunks of learning, with breaks in the programme when the pharmacists’ working hours became too busy. This resulted in some apprentices taking two years to complete a 1-year Level 2 apprenticeship, as COVID-related disruption meant they were only learning for 12 months of those two years.
Mental health and the lack of peer-to-peer support was a particular challenge for our apprentices during the pandemic. Jackie praised the staff who offered to take on pastoral support during evenings and over the weekends and said one of the most frequent compliments she gets from apprentices on completion of their course, is “my assessor was there when I needed them, but there isn’t someone in the workplace who could be there”.
Jackie concluded by calling on the Government to offer greater flexibility for providers by allowing the transfer of the Apprenticeship Levy to the organisation that provides the apprenticeship training (typically a further education college or a private provider), so they can continue to support the apprentice when they change jobs – currently as soon as an apprentice concludes their studies, the provider can no longer support them.
Lord Aberdare, Baroness Garden of Frognal and Baroness Verma asked questions about how apprenticeships can become more accessible to small and medium businesses, whether the Apprenticeship Levy works, and what the Government can do to improve the apprenticeship system. Jackie confidently answered the questions that she was asked and the APPG’s members were very interested in her suggestions.
Capital City College Group is the largest further education apprenticeship provider in London. As well as sharing our views with influential parliamentarians, we also train 22% of all of London’s apprentices. While most of our apprentices are trained by Capital City College Training, our hospitality and culinary apprentices are trained at Westminster Kingsway College’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Victoria.
Through CCCT and Westminster Kingsway, we deliver over 1,600 apprenticeships each year, working with well over 500 organisations across a wide range of industries. Find out more about our apprenticeships and training courses and how to apply here.