Rural Businesses Learn More About Government Apprenticeship Changes
On 3rd December 2014, Hadlow College held its first Business Advisory Council of the new academic year, with the aim of updating everyone on the forthcoming changes to apprenticeships.
With members comprising a broad cross-section of businesses, including large production organisations, smaller nurseries, membership organisations, equestrian organisations and representatives from the County Council and local borough, as well as college senior manager and governors, the event also offered an opportunity to network and exchange ideas about the future direction of the overall rural sector.
Following a presentation by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) on the apprenticeship reform process which, regardless of the outcome of the 2015 General Election, will continue, Hadlow presented an industry update which culminated in the question “do you understand more about apprenticeships following the presentation?” The general consensus was that the financial incentives offered by the government for apprenticeships are not important to SMEs, they prefer to focus on the growth of the company, and ultimately they agreed they were all still a little unsure of the benefits.
As a College, we understand the importance of apprenticeships for students and see them as a real alternative to full-time education, allowing the student the chance to gain full-time employment rather than back into College or unemployment. Our apprenticeship offer continues to expand and we are currently looking at other areas of the sector, including equestrian and higher-level apprenticeships.
There was, from all present, an agreement that the rural sector needed to take control of the funding streams or lose out to other industries. Businesses must work together to create apprenticeships and retain funding before it is allocated elsewhere. In 2015, the whole Hadlow Group (which also includes West Kent and Ashford College), will re-positioned to include a one-stop shop for apprenticeships and training certifications. Hadlow will also be lobbying the government to ensure that the rural sector is equally represented.
If you are interested in consulting on the reforms, please e-mail the Apprenticeships, Business and Communities department.