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Merge council and supply chain apprentice data – London Councils

Borough councils in London should be able to count the apprentices recruited in their supply chains towards their total apprenticeship figures, London Councils is expected to say in a letter to skills minister Nick Boles MP.

The proposal, inspired by data from the last five years, is one of many suggestions that London Councils is expected to make to lobby against the current methodology for the apprenticeship target, it revealed in board papers for a sub-group meeting scheduled for 16 June.

The data for 2015-16 showed that the total number of apprentices recruited directly by a borough council and by their contractors dropped again, following on from last year’s trend. The organisation did acknowledge, however, that a number of boroughs under-report on the number of apprentices recruited via their contractors, meaning true figures could be higher.

There is also variation in the number of apprentices recruited by each borough due to a number of different factors, including the maturity of their programmes, local demand, the ability to recruit appropriate apprentices and the amount of opportunities in a locality.

On the other hand, there has been a significant hike in the number of apprentices recruited by supply chains this year, up to 988 from just 535 last year – yet this was largely due to the activity of just one borough.

If its proposal to incorporate supply chain figures into borough figures goes through, London Councils, the lobbying organisation for the capital’s 33 councils, said it will be “increasingly important for boroughs to accurately monitor this activity”.

Other patterns identified from this year’s data include the changing age ranges of recruited apprentices. Over 90% of apprentices recruited by boroughs were 24 and under, for example, which differs from the “general profile of apprenticeship starts which shows that numbers in the higher range brackets have risen significantly, and over 25s now make up 37% of all starts”.

“This demonstrates that local authorities in London are providing more opportunities for younger people than business more widely,” Andy Scott, service head for economic development, said in his London Councils report.

As well as lobbying against central government’s target methodology – which will, amongst other things, force all public sector bodies to ensure apprentices makes up at least 2.3% of their workforces from April next year – London Councils will use this information to call for improved data monitoring.

It said the data demonstrated a “number of emerging trends which may require activities or interventions”, such as better data monitoring regarding supply chain apprenticeships.

“Southwark has drastically increased their numbers regarding supply chain opportunities. This may be worth some focussed best practice sharing,” Scott said.

“The increase in numbers, although positive, is broadly down to one borough’s increased activity and a number of boroughs on-going work. What more can be done to support boroughs with consistently low number of apprentices?”

It will also be used to determine what else boroughs would like to see reported on to ensure the body is recording the right data, but “bearing in mind we want this data collection to remain light touch”.


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