The National Apprenticeship Service and Jaguar Land Rover have begun a pilot programme in the West Midlands which will help remove obstacles that prevent small businesses from recruiting advanced apprentices.
The Apprenticeship Extension Programme, also supported by the National Skills Academy and Warwickshire College, is designed to provide young people with the entry level knowledge and experience necessary to begin an advanced apprenticeship in manufacturing and engineering. High potential apprentices will be trained to Apprenticeship Level Two at either Jaguar Land Rover or Warwickshire College before completing the next stage of their development at SME firms around the West Midlands.
Bill Twigg, development director at Semta, the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies, said: “The pilot project aims to place more young people into manufacturing whilst making it easier for SME’s to take on an advanced apprentice. Sometimes, SME’s are putting off taking on an apprentice because they fear that they will lose valuable time teaching a young person the very basics of working in a manufacturing environment or they lack the appropriate infrastructure.”
Ian Eva, manager of apprenticeship programmes and external networks at Jaguar Land Rover, added: “It is a great opportunity for large organisations like ourselves to help overcome some of the difficulties and concerns SMEs have in recruiting apprentices. This pilot is based on providing, in very practical terms, core engineering skills with the emphasis on developing not only competencies but employability.”
The project is aimed at small and mid-sized companies with up to 250 employees. Two such companies have already committed to recruiting apprentices next September and several others have expressed an interest.
Jaguar Land Rover has taken on an extra 13 apprenticeships for this initiative and they will be ready to join the smaller firms in August.