HR Business Partner – Resourcing and Apprenticeships
Jo coordinates the Apprenticeship Academy at Medway Council and is the person who has the lead responsibility for their digital account and reporting to the Department of Education on their performance with Apprenticeships. Medway Council have apprenticeships in a range of sectors from Finance, Teaching, Social Care to Team Leading, this is where IPS come in as the Provider working with Medway Council for the Team Leading and Management Apprenticeships. Jo talks to us about their Apprenticeship experience so far and the benefits of Apprenticeships within their organisation…
“Medway Council have had Apprentices for many years, we started in about 2006 but obviously the Apprenticeship Levy brought Apprenticeships to the forefront and meant what we were doing previously could be enhanced because we would be utilising the amount of money we had paid within the Levy, otherwise we would lose it and not enhance our organisation. Also, as a local authority we have a responsibility to our residents and the young people of Medway who we want to assist, develop and support increased social mobility. We aspire to help young people in Medway to gain the best start in life.
Medway Council is a unitary authority which means that we provide all government services for our residents, covering everything from social care, education, highways, leisure centres, libraries and more, which means we have the opportunity to utilise a wide variety of Apprenticeship programmes. Currently we are using 24 different Apprenticeship programmes, ranging from facilities management, finance, legal, HR, teaching assistants and leadership and management – which is where we work with IPS.
I have had a good working relationship with IPS and when we looked into getting Leadership and Management Providers, IPS were one of the ones who came forward to deliver the programme for our learners. We ran a campaign where we asked for tender bids and met with those organisations to see what they could do and how they would deliver the programme. IPS were selected as offering the best programme for our staff. IPS deliver our Level 3 and 5 Apprenticeships in Leadership and Management and were willing to adapt the programme, looking into what we wanted and how we wanted it delivered. With us being a public sector organisation, IPS were able to incorporate a lot of the understanding we had already gained running our own ILM centre, increasing that knowledge and running with that. IPS were also there to support us as an employer, as well as our Apprentices, whenever we needed it.
At Medway Council we definitely see Apprenticeships as worthwhile, the organisation is supporting them not just for initial stages of people’s careers but also for senior positions. This is where our Leadership and Management Apprenticeships come into play. We offer our managers the opportunity for professional career development via Apprenticeship programme qualifications to enhance their skills and develop their competencies, to enable them to lead our teams and services with the correct knowledge, skills and behaviours. We have had a lot of staff progress from the Level 3 or 5 qualification onto the Level 6 Chartered Manager or Level 7 Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship qualifications. In fact, one of our most senior officers is currently undertaking the Level 7 Master’s degree Apprenticeship programme.
We identify the value of Apprenticeships within our organisation by seeing skills and behaviours being demonstrated, staff survey results about their leaders and the management style within the organisation, retention of staff, the decrease of whistleblowing cases that identifies to us that we are doing something right and also our staff turnover. We are keeping staff and they are seeing us as an organisation and employer of choice, which is an aspiration for us to be seen that way in Medway. These are all measures we can use to demonstrate we are doing something positively viewed by our staff.
I would recommend IPS as a provider to other employers, as they were always willing to listen to what we were asking for, I’m not saying the programmes have gone without hiccups but much was due to the newness of the Apprenticeship Standard programmes and the end point assessments, compared to how we ran it previously. As an ILM centre we ran our own programmes and people were used to attending a workshop, writing an essay and getting their qualification whereas the requirements of the Apprenticeship programme were so different for IPS to learn and understand, as well as for us. It was a learning curve but IPS are willing to recognise if they are lacking in a certain area and were always able to put it right.
“Apprenticeships are amazing and give any organisation the ability to grow new talent and develop existing member of staff, allowing them to forge ahead in the way they wish their career to progress, to the benefit of your organisation.”