The employment landscape has changed and, like many businesses, we have adapted our ways of working. We are continuing to recruit and place apprentices in schools, childcare settings, local government and businesses across Somerset, despite a recent national survey suggesting apprenticeship starts have reduced by as much as 80% due to Covid-19.
Investing in development
We are seeing employers we work with investing in both their current staff development via an apprenticeship, as well as recruiting new staff as apprentices to complement their existing workforce.
In recent weeks, SS&L apprentices have started at Frome Town Council, The Mill Nursery, Somerset County Council, Ashlands First School, Stepping Stones Playgroup and Oaklands Surgery, to name a few.
Anne Hills, Leader of Frome Town Council, says,
“While we may be working in unusual times, the staff at Frome Town Council are still working hard behind the scenes. We fully support our staff and recognise the importance for training and development to continue during these times. Following recent promotions of Hannah Paniccia to Assistant Finance Officer and Dave Krzyzosiak to Lead Ranger, the pair have enrolled on the Level 3 Team Leader apprenticeship with SS&L. This will allow them to develop and flourish in their new supervisory roles.”
Dave West, Head of Employer Engagement at SS&L, explains,
“Like other businesses, we’ve needed to adapt and change the way we deliver our service in recent months. Throughout every change, we’ve kept the apprentice and their employer at the heart of each decision and this has resulted in very few withdrawals and an increase in new apprenticeship starts. We’ve surveyed apprentices and used focus groups to ensure we’re getting it right and in the coming weeks a survey will be shared with local employers to help them shape our longer term delivery offer.”
Virtual visits, video and Zoom
Some of the practical elements of apprenticeships have been challenging in recent months, for example we have been unable to visit employers, exams and assessments have been cancelled or postponed, observations and face to face inductions have not been possible. To solve these issues, we’ve introduced virtual employer visits via Zoom, inductions via video and assessments have been carried out remotely. We have also invested in digital signing software to allow more paperwork to be completed remotely, so that we can continue to support all our current apprentices and employers, as well as onboard new starts.
Changing relationships with employers
Our team has been contacted more for advice and information around changes in government guidance, funding requirements and compliance. We have developed new relationships and strengthened existing partnerships with employers, being on hand to provide help and support during this challenging time.
Safe recruitment and support
Our Employer Engagement Team are still able to recruit, and we have put the following in place to ensure we can continue to support everyone safely:
- Employers are supported remotely, with Account Managers making regular contact, using Zoom, phone and email.
- Apprentices are recruited via Zoom to avoid any face to face meetings.
- We have increased tutor contact for apprentices, including those who have been placed on furlough who are continuing their studies.
Ellie, a business admin apprentice, tells her story having begun her apprenticeship just a week before lockdown…
The SS&L Employer Engagement Team are here to support you and your workforce needs, answer your questions and offer advice.
To arrange a free phone or Zoom consultation to discuss how we can help your school, business or organisation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or start a live chat.