Why apprenticeships are the secret tool for addressing regional skills gaps

Louise Kenyon from Covéa Insurance and Claire Williams from Calderdale College explain how by working in partnership, the two are able to create opportunities for all.

When Bailey Linton was preparing to leave sixth form, apprenticeships weren’t very high on the agenda when it came to considering your career options. Bailey was under the assumption that apprenticeships were something you started when you were 16 and were restricted to manual career paths like those within the construction sector.

So when Covéa Insurance visited Bailey’s sixth form college and offered him the opportunity to interview for a Level 5 apprenticeship at Calderdale College in Operations Management – the equivalent of two years at university – he was intrigued.

Now, three years down the line, Bailey has completed his apprenticeship, been promoted to Product Governance Coordinator and is currently completing a further apprenticeship with one of the College’s newest apprenticeships, Chartered Manager Level 6 top up.

Once he completes this qualification next year, he’ll have achieved the equivalent of a BA (Hons) degree, all while working and earning a salary.

As one of the region’s largest employers, Covéa is passionate about promoting apprenticeships as an entry into employment.

Louise Kenyon, Graduate and Apprenticeship Recruitment Partner at Covéa Insurance, explains: “It’s really important for us to support our local community through apprenticeships, whether that’s through recruiting apprentices into Covéa, or transferring levy funds to smaller businesses so that they can afford to take on their own.”

Covéa works closely with higher education institutions across the region to place apprentices and has benefitted from a strong working relationship with us at Calderdale College for the last 10 years. As a college, we take a collaborative approach to apprenticeships, inviting Covéa and other local businesses and charities to speak openly about the skills gaps that they are experiencing so that it can adapt its curriculum to ensure it is tailored to the needs of the region.

We’re currently working with Covéa on our Collaborative Apprenticeships project. Funded by the ESF and managed by the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges (WYCC), Collaborative Apprenticeships aims to improve the quality and increase the quantity of apprenticeships across the region through fully funded training courses, services and support.

Claire Williams, Head of Employer Engagement at Calderdale College, said: “Through our employer partners, we see first-hand the benefits that apprenticeships can provide, not just to businesses, but to the wider region. That’s why we work closely with businesses like Covéa to ensure they are providing apprentices with the most supportive and engaging environment possible, helping them to really get the most out of their apprenticeship and in turn making them more likely to stay working within Calderdale and generating value here.”

“One way we do this is through offering free training courses in areas such as Mental Health First Aid. The courses are available for apprentices and give them the opportunity not only to directly apply what they learn in college to a workplace environment, but are also able to boost their CVs with additional qualifications and learn valuable transferrable skills.”

So what would Bailey say to any young person considering taking on an apprenticeship?

“I’d say go for it. Apprenticeships are so different from what they used to be, and there’s now something out there to suit everyone, no matter what their skills or interests.

“In the three years since I started with Covéa, the funding they’ve provided me has allowed me to earn three years’ salary, gain three years’ work experience and save up a house deposit before my friends have even graduated. I’ll also be getting my degree next year, also funded by Covéa, all while earning money and learning skills that I’ll use for the rest of my career. What’s not to like?”

To find out more about the apprenticeship support that we can offer employers, please email [email protected]

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