Apprenticeship investments ‘pivotal to prosperity’

In light of National Apprenticeship Week, the University of Leicester has affirmed its commitment to the future economic prosperity of its city, by revealing an ongoing investment in ‘learn while you earn’ staff apprenticeship schemes.

It is no secret that Leicester’s economy has shrunk - by approximately 12.2 per cent - in 2020 as a result of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. Whilst it is deemed likely by analysts to be one of the cities hardest hit in the UK by lockdown restrictions, the PwC Good Growth Index suggests that Leicester’s current economic position is salvageable with careful strategy for growth moving forwards.

The University of Leicester has exciting plans underway for 2021 that will contribute to the economy’s recovery, enabling the employment and upskilling of workers in the city by sponsoring external apprenticeship training schemes.

In line with its on-going ‘Citizens of Change’ campaign, the University’s intention is for its ‘power for change’ to stretch beyond the higher education scene, including but not limited to supporting Leicester’s economy, building skills within community organisations, and growing opportunities for Leicestershire citizens.

This year the University of Leicester is pledging over £150,000, from their annual apprenticeship levy fund, to give community organisations and charities throughout Leicestershire the opportunity to provide new or existing staff members with apprenticeship training with each place worth up to £7,000. 

Companies in the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sectors are encouraged to apply for the University’s apprenticeship funding via the Leading in Leicester and Leicestershire project, and organisations outside of the VCSE sector who could benefit from the sponsorship of an apprentice, should get in touch with the University's staff apprenticeships lead Becci Burden, The partnership between the University of Leicester with Leicester College and the community charity consortium Reaching People is part of the wider Leading in Leicester programme. Organisations can access the apprenticeship levy made available by the University of Leicester, via the Leicestershire Citizens Apprenticeship Fund.

Becci Burden, Staff Apprenticeships Lead at the University of Leicester, says:

“Our internal apprenticeships scheme at the University has gone from strength to strength as we get more applications and success from staff each year. Last year, every one of our staff apprentices at the University achieved the highest grade possible – a real testament to the excellent calibre of our staff and the training provided for them.

“We have great plans internally for 2021 including to target specific areas via initiatives such as the Technician Commitment and Women in STEM via the Athena Swann Charter. I am proud however that our work is not just to ‘look after our own’. We are ‘Citizens of Change’ – in the community, for the community.”

Alison Fitzsimons has been supported through the Leicestershire Citizens Apprenticeships Fund pilot. A Development Worker at the Emerald Centre in Leicester, Alison embarked on the ILM Team Leader level 3 apprenticeship training course. She said:

“I was appointed as a Community Development Worker at the Emerald Centre which includes leading and managing a small team of employees and volunteers. I applied for the apprenticeship course as I wanted to improve my confidence and develop my managerial skills. By undertaking this training I know I will become more effective in my day to day tasks. As a charity, the cost of this qualification would have been impossible to cover. I am really grateful to the University of Leicester and all other partners involved for making this apprenticeship a possibility.”

The University of Leicester has played a key role in the development of new Space Engineering apprenticeship standards in collaboration with industry and the UK Space Agency, based on six decades of experience in space teaching and research.

These new standards enable space sector employers around the country to offer apprenticeships that deliver the knowledge, skills and behaviours required by their business. As well as helping to develop this new route to employment in the sector it is forging partnerships which will enable space apprenticeship training to be delivered both regionally and nationally, whilst the Space Park Leicester development consolidates Leicester and Leicestershire as a centre of activity for the space industry.

Subject to the necessary government approvals being granted, the University plans to offer space apprenticeship training at Space Park Leicester, allowing employers and apprentices to benefit from the expertise and facilities that will be located there.

Internally at the University, a series of events is underway for staff, to mark National Apprenticeships Week, including ‘Ask an Apprentice’ sessions where staff members who are interested in taking an apprenticeship course can find out what they want to know from current apprentice ambassadors and seek advice.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester said: “Our internal and external commitment to apprenticeship schemes reflect our mission to support our city and local community as much as we can, with arrangements that unlock growth, provide ladders of opportunity and upskill employees across the region.

“We are proud to make tangible contributions in this way, which are pivotal to the prosperity of our local region as it looks to build back better from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Through times of collective challenge and change, we will continue to be a University for Leicester, as well as the University of Leicester.”

Sir Peter Soulsby, City Mayor for Leicester said: “Never has it been more important to be united and work together for the benefit of our city. As the University enters its second century, we look forward to building upon our many successes, strengthening our partnership, and helping Leicester to grow and prosper.”

Cllr Nicholas Rushton, Leader of Leicestershire County Council, added: “I know the Vice-Chancellor is determined that the University plays a greater role in both the well-being and the economic recovery of both city and county - I welcome that.”

The Government’s theme for this year’s National Apprentice Week is ‘build the future’. The University of Leicester is proud to stand in support of this goal.