Rugby Borough Council – Providing a ladder of opportunities and apprenticeships from VET to HVET in a local public administration setting
By Nick Davy, Arti Saraswat (AOC)
Public sector organization providing a range of services to the town of Rugby such housing, waste collection, planning services, leisure and sports facilities. Circa 300 employees.
The Borough of Rugby is a local government district with borough status in eastern Warwickshire, England. The borough comprises the town of Rugby where the council has its headquarters, and the rural areas surrounding the town. The borough has a population of just over 100,000.
The council offers apprenticeships in carpentry, plumbing, mechanics, horticulture, arboriculture and business administration; and in its housing services. Most apprenticeships are at levels 2 and 3 on the English QCF.
For higher level Housing Apprenticeships (+ QCF level 4) the employer works with the professional association in the UK for the housing profession – The Institute of Housing.
17 starts in total in 2018 with an equal split of apprentices joining us from outside and existing employees who have moved to a new role and have a substantive training need:
- 5 @ Level 2: 3 x Customer Service, 1 x Land-Based Engineer, 1x plumbing
- 10 @ Level 3: 1 x Customer Service Practitioner, 2 x Business Administrator, 4 x Housing & Property Management, Team Leader / Supervisor x 3
- 1 @ Level 4: Construction Management: Construction and Building Services Management and Supervision (Sustainability), Level: 4
- 1 @ Level 5: Operations / departmental manager, Level: 5 (Standard).
The council has a clear learning, development supervisory, and management structure with a designated apprenticeship manager accountable to the organization’s Senior Management Team and with responsibility, in association with line managers, for the appointment of designated apprentice coaches. 10 weekly meetings are held with the education provider with responsibility for assessment and OJT.
Each apprenticeship is provided with a contract – called, training agreement – at the beginning of the apprenticeship. Includes: objectives, training plan, if relevant – qualification aim, development of competencies – skills, knowledge, behaviours – identified in the national standards document, coaching and feedback processes and assessment regime. Apprenticeship OJT provided by Warwickshire College.
The employer uses an INT profiling development system – Identifying and Nurturing Talent.
Range of processes in place to ensure an apprenticeship works well: (a) Initial assessment centre (b) 8 week foundation orientation period (c) apprentice placed for 3 months in different departments (d) clear management accountability structures (e) regular internal 3 monthly apprentice reviews; 10 weekly one-to-one reviews with education provider; meetings to discuss assessment outcomes (f) designated internal coach backed up by several guidance handbooks – apprenticeship guide to work; employee handbook.
Each apprentice assigned a designated coach. The organization does not use mentors.
The employer organizes an initial assessment process – an assessment centre – which could, dependent on result, lead to further numeracy or literacy training/education by the education provider. Feedback is also provide at the regular review processes indicated previously.
Feedback, including the apprentice, occurs every 3 months at the workplace, every 10 weeks with the employer and provider and after every completed assessment. As part of the 3 monthly review process, the apprentice is also asked to complete a reflective review indicating their perceptions of performance and progress to-date including soft skills.
- Improvement in literacy and numeracy skills. Initial assessment process proven to be very successful in identifying English and mathematic skills needs of apprentices with appropriate follow up help where necessary
- Development of soft skills. Use of coaches and coaching, including reflective reviews, very successful in developing the ‘soft skills’ and personal development of the apprentice.
We did our homework on the Levy [Note: New apprenticeship levy introduced in England in September 2019] but we needed to know more about the move from Frameworks to Standards as it has taken us a while to become familiar with the new Standards, the new approach and in particular the End Point Assessment. This has also been true of other organizations we work with, e.g. the Chartered Institute of Housing.
Better understanding of the need for 20% of the hours of the apprenticeship programme to be ‘off-the job’ i.e. training or guided learning.