NICK FAIRBAIRN: Pupils at Cambridge Regional College are reaping the benefit of a new apprenticeship scheme. Since it was launched in February, the number of pupils being offered apprenticeships has risen dramatically. Earlier on today I spoke to someone from the Regional College. It was CRC’s Programme Leader of Painting and Decorating. His name is Keith Bryant, and he told me that the scheme is working an absolute treat. (TAPE)
KEITH BRYANT: They are really having a great effect for my department. The incentives at the moment encourage a focus. Some extra funding came from Government, but some funding that they had within the College. My Department is Painting and Decorating. We’re looking at, at the moment, they’ve waived all the fees, so there are no fees for 16-24 year olds taking an apprenticeship at the College. And also, on top of that, there’s a £1500 cash bonus at the end of the course, once they have completed the whole framework. The College have looked at my area of Painting and Decorating. We were slightly lower on numbers, but mainly because in the East of England we’re short at least 1,000 qualified tradespersons. So at the moment, they’re looking at employing, getting young people to come in and take jobs, and the employers to understand that if they take on someone, it’s not going to cost them anything. And there are bonuses there. On top of that, the Government have also=, on their apprenticeship site, looked at the same age group, the 16-24s, and added another £1500 to companies of a small to medium size, which is up to about 250 to 1000 people. So there are two cash bonuses for companies at the moment, and for us as a department, we went from just two apprentices on our full-time course, to now we’ve got four, and another five job vacancies on the website. We also had the banner go up just before half-term, and we had 1000 hots within the first week.
NICK FAIRBAIRN: So massively successful then.
KEITH BRYANT: Oh. We’re having an employer a week at the moment, coming to us saying we want a young person. And for me as a §person running the department, I’m also §being able to put my full-time learners, so two of my full-time learners are out on work experience, and absolutely loving it. So I’m hoping as well as that we can move young people that are in §a course at CRC onto an apprenticeship, and then come back and be trained by myself§ as an apprentice.
NICK FAIRBAIRN: And it shows, doesn’t it, that what pupils are doing is really worthwhile, and there’s something to show for it at the end as well, getting a trade under their belts.
KEITH BRYANT: Well I think it is. At the moment it’s harder to get into university. University places are going to be scarcer. And the fees there. So a trade for me is a real sound basis. And I think for me as well, looking from a Level 2 to an advanced apprenticeship, the fees .. a lot of the time companies did have to pay quite a substantial amount of money to have an apprentice over 19 to progress. Now, up until the 31st of July, that progression has been made free of charge. So I’ve now got second year §who really wanted to be third years, and come back and do an advanced, are able to do that, because their companies are more confident. And there are no costs there. So I’m then pushing it through. So we’ve got advanced apprentices as well as young people, coming in to the industry. So really, at the moment, it’s a very exciting time for me, and I’m really pleased that I sat down with my academy manager at the College, and they focused on my department. And they’ve put up the financ§e to drive home the fact that companies can take on a young person, and can change their lives, and we can deliver a high standard of education for these young people, and get them out there in a job and earning money.
NICK FAIRBAIRN: Yes. It’s just what we need at the moment, isn’t it, because there is a bit of doom and gloom around the labour market. Some more positive figures yesterday, but we need initiatives such as these to give people a chance of getting into work.
KEITH BRYANT: We do. We do. I think young people need to have that confidence that there is something out there for them, and they can go to the CRC website, they can click on there, and there are vacancies. And then with that they’ve got the opportunity to get in a job, earn a living, and become tradespersons. And we need those people. We need apprentices out there, and we need young people becoming tradesmen and tradeswomen, because I’m very focused on women in industry as well as a department. So yes, at the moment there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s getting brighter and brighter. So it’s really really good.
NICK FAIRBAIRN: That was Keith Bryant, who is Cambridge Regional College’s Programme Leader at Painting and Decorating.