31st Aug 2022
September is always a busy time of year at the College and this year has been no exception. Last week, we welcomed GCSE students to our results drop-in days. This week, not only are we busy enrolling students onto our courses but we are also welcoming potential new apprentices to our Abingdon campus and giving them the opportunity to chat to our apprenticeship team about how an Abingdon & Witney College apprenticeship - rated 'Outstanding' by OFSTED - could benefit them.
For the many employers across Oxfordshire we already work with the benefits of apprenticeships are clear. With the support of the College there will be a need to invest time and money into the early stages of the apprenticeship but the returns are significant, not least because by the end of the course they know their apprentice well and have trained them in their own processes themselves.
Additionally, recent changes to the Education Skills & Funding Agency's (ESFA) training requirements have made apprenticeships an even more attractive option for business. Previously, the government required apprentices to spend 20% of their working week in off-the-job training but this has been scrapped in favour of a flat rate six hours per week requirement.
The change has been welcomed by Abingdon & Witney College Head of Business Development, Ed Collett, who said: "Previously, the requirement for 20% off-the-job training proved unpopular with employers and led to inequality between trainees contracted for longer or shorter working weeks. The 20% requirement meant that someone contracted to work a 30 hour week was only required to train for six of those hours, whereas someone on a 40 hour per week was accessing eight hours a week training.
We are really pleased with the changes to the off-the-job training rules. It ensures better equality of training opportunities for our apprentices whilst maintaining commitment from employers to the amount of training."
The change came into effect on 1 August and does not impact on the ability of training providers to provide training flexibly; however, the ESFA has stressed that the change "must not dilute the existing requirement - to provide the right level of training to every apprentice. The volume of training that is delivered must be guided by the initial assessment of the apprentice and this may mean that an apprentice trains for more than six hours per week."
Association of Employment and Learning Providers Director of Policy, Simon Ashworth, also welcomed the move. "The approach using actual and individual contracted hours created inequality. This meant that some individuals had to undertake additional training to their peers, purely because of their contracted hours - which don't always correlate to what training they actually need."
Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly popular option for those wishing to avoid incurring debt during their studies. Long gone are the days of the 'traditional' apprenticeship; we offer apprenticeships in every discipline from business administration and customer service to carpentry, early years and healthcare. And apprenticeships are certainly not the easy option; there is a requirement from both employer and education provider to perform well in both areas but the benefits are significant. Aside from 'earning while you learn', the apprentice gains a great deal of commercial experience and work-based training which inevitably puts them in a strong position to be offered a permanent role within their company, either during or after their apprenticeship. And, of course, as well as gaining that invaluable experience they will attain the same level of qualification as if they had attended college full time.
The following apprenticeships are available at Abingdon & Witney College working with employers across Oxfordshire in 2022/23:-