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College takes a lead on apprenticeships

A ONE-STOP-SHOP for apprenticeships, designed to make it easy for students and businesses in the North East to find out more, has gone live.

Sunderland College’s new online apprenticeship hub – www.sunderlandapprenticeships.co.uk – is up and running, providing a landing-point for people interested in an apprenticeship route to work, as well as businesses that are looking to sign up apprentices.  The new site – which provides an A-Z of this vocational route into work – will also be used to advertise apprenticeship vacancies.

Ellen Thinnesen, principal and chief executive at Sunderland College, said: “The launch of this site is a real step forward for the college, in terms of creating an engaging platform through which we can share with people and businesses the many benefits of apprenticeships.

“Apprentices play a key role in filling the skills gaps that many key sectors in the North East face, and this has resulted in an increased level of focus on them from Government over the last few years.  With that focus comes policy-change, and the apprenticeship levy – which will impact on businesses big and small – is something that has left a lot of questions in the minds of many employers.

“Our website provides a breadth of information to ensure that businesses are completely up-to-date with everything to do with apprenticeships, including regular updates on apprenticeship reforms and the levy and the implications that these will have on businesses.  And of course, for many young people, it will become a site on which they can find opportunities that represent their next step on the career ladder.”

The website, which went live this week, was led by the college’s business engagement team, who are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the college when it comes to the requirements of the business community.  The team, who work with employers across the region, have shaped the content on the website, to ensure it addresses the questions they are frequently asked by employers.

Iain Nixon, executive director of commercial activity at Sunderland College, said: “Many employers have questions about apprenticeships, in terms of what they can expect the process to look like, and what they need to do as an employer to meet their obligations and get the best possible results.

“We want to take the fear out of apprenticeships, and show businesses just how easy they can be to put in place.  And a key part of that is working in partnership with businesses to guide them through the process, which is something our business development team are all experienced in doing.”

He added: “Apprentices are hugely valuable to businesses who have the opportunity to mould talented and enthusiastic individuals to meet the specific needs of their companies – whether they are new to the firm or have worked there for a while. We need to make more businesses in the region aware of just how easily they can implement an apprenticeship programme, and indeed, the many benefits they can expect as a result of getting on board.”

Philip Foster, who is Chief Operating Officer at Sunderland Care and Support, said that the new site would be a great resource for businesses exploring how apprenticeshps could add value to their team.

He said: “Apprentices are a key part of our team, and add a huge amount of value, but the initial steps to adding them to the business can be daunting, especially for those with no experience of recruiting them in this way.

“This site will provide a really reassuring first port of call for businesses keen to find out more, and if they take it a step further, they will be in safe hands working with Sunderland College, who have been a fantastic skills partner to our business.”

Sunderland College works with businesses across the North East to deliver apprenticeship programmes, including Calsonic Kansei, Gentoo, Sunderland Care and Support, Liebherr, Farrans, nPower, Leighton Corporation and Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.  A recent study by EMSI showed that the accumulated contribution of the college’s former learners to the regional economy equates to £401m added income per year.

To find out more about apprenticeships, visit www.sunderlandapprenticeships.co.uk.

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