Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Let’s all give 100 per cent to build our society

What's the purpose of your college? Is it to simply churn out a generation of automatons, equipped with the skills to ply their trade, but not much more? I ask, because of the noisy criticism recently from a number of quarters, regarding the 20 per cent off the job training rule for apprentices.

There’s little doubt the apprentices we train within our Group are growing many more skills as a consequence of the 20 per cent off the job training they receive.

Off the job training gives apprentices the opportunity to learn even more new skills
But perhaps the issue is about something even more important than the huge range of soft skills students pick up.

In fact, I believe it’s about the future prosperity of UK PLC, and can there, really, be a bigger reason to embrace this rule than that?

In training new apprentices, we're growing the skills not just for an individual, or a business, or a community. We are developing those skills for our country’s long term prosperity. What do I mean by that? Well, in order to develop rounded workers, who can remain agile in a busy and dynamic employment market, and therefore help contribute to the wider growth of our society, we need skilled young people who understand the different ways of doing things. They need to be rounded, without organisational indoctrination or bias. They need to understand the different ways of working, and that can only come in one way.

Giving apprentices off the job training opens them up to different experiences
To develop those skills, our apprentices require the checks and balances that come with spending time networking with their peers, learning new ways of doing things and benefitting from the myriad of positive experiences they'll have within their college environment. It’s exactly the skills they build during their time at College which will enable them to progress from their apprenticeship, and, should they want to, move to another organisation. That enables them to become valuable contributors to our economy on a wider level, giving them the tools to navigate our jobs market fluidly, and transition into new roles and businesses more easily.

There’s another reason why apprentices should have that 20 per cent of time away from the workplace. That’s the social aspect of it. It’s a good thing for them to mix with their peers, and to be able to build their networks. And for younger apprentices, it’s nice to give them a forum where they’re able to socialise, and have some fun that’s not workplace related. In my view, it’s that ‘apprentice experience’ which would be lacking if the 20 per cent rule were to be diluted. 

The ability to mix with peers in a College environment ensures apprentices develop their networks, adding to the experience.
And if that were to happen, then you’ll simply push young people – who Government is encouraging to engage in apprenticeships – into other pathways, ultimately limiting our country’s opportunity to grow and flourish in the future.

You can see I am a passionate supporter of the 20 per cent off the job rule for apprentices. As a Group we’re clear about the benefits it brings, and, as a consequence are advocates of it. However, I recognise business sees an apprentice – rightly, in my view – as a real employee, and therefore needs them to add value from day one. I believe the message we all need to be taking to business, and the wider community, is that 20 per cent off the job for that apprentice will keep adding value in perpetuity, and result in a better, more rounded and effective employee over the longer term.

So we come back to the question we began with; what’s the purpose of your college? I know what our Group’s purpose is, and it’s to ensure we nurture the next generation of skilled employees, who can play an active role in contributing to every element of our society, and the communities we serve, rather than just one business. That’s why we must ensure the 20 per cent of off the job training rule remains, and we are active participants in it.

1 comment:

  1. While this may be difficult for smaller employers the benefit to the apprentice is enormous.

    We are so lucky to have Graham Razey and his passionate championing of FE as Principal of East Kent College.