Buxton & Leek College: The Impact of Apprenticeships on Apprentices, Employers and Communities
Studying the value and impact of apprenticeships delivered in rural communities, to understand how to improve skills delivery, productivity, and individual and community mobility
Responding to the large amount of research into apprenticeships in urban settings, this project examined the value and impact of apprenticeships delivered in rural communities. In particular, the project team worked to;
- Identify the value and impact of the apprenticeship programmes in rural communities
- Determine whether the employment of apprentices through the programmes across their area had improved the productivity of the workforce and improved individual and community mobility
- Examine how issues relating to skills delivery in rural settings can be improved
- Share apprenticeship case studies, stories and ideas for local skills policy with a range of stakeholder
The research focused on capturing the stories of apprentices, employers, and stakeholder organisations in the local community. By the time of the research’s close, the project team had organised a group discussion with local employers, worked through 10 interviews with apprentices and ran a symposium and networking event to bring learners, employers, local government and other representative bodies together.
From this basis, work will begin on the plotting of an impact framework that the sector could use to articulate how apprenticeship programmes can support social mobility in rural settings.
This project examined the value and impact of apprenticeships delivered in rural communities.
Initial findings from the project include the universal recognition that apprenticeships add value to the business no matter the size of the employer. Consequently, employers made clear that they would likely change their employment policy to focus on retention and development from within rather than recurring recruitment from without. This is because recruitment in rural communities was frequently described as challenging due to a lack of cross-generational teaching and low base-level skills.
The main concern for apprentices was the need for better wages, followed by a 3-way split between an interest in remote learning, flexibility in apprenticeship standards and improving ease of access to opportunities. This 3-way split is particularly important in the rural context where lack of adequate transport was described as the prime barrier to education.
The project team will continue to create the impact framework through the quantitative and qualitative development of this research. In particular, the sample size of apprentices and employers will be expanded in future conversations to give more statistical weight to any findings and interpretations.
Further, future research will make greater qualitative distinctions between the industries that each employer works in as it was recognised that whilst different industries have significantly different issues with recruitment, retention and development of apprentices, this difference was not analysed as much as it might be in this round of work.
Employers made clear that they would likely change their employment policy to focus on retention and development from within rather than recurring recruitment from without.
This project reports on the challenges, opportunities and future ideas for apprenticeship delivery; provides case study notes on apprenticeships from learners, employers, providers and wider stakeholders; and features templates of impact assessment forms for students, employers and community organisations.
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