Agenda item

Bristol City Council Apprenticeships Service


The Committee received a report of the Head of Service (Employment, Skills & Learning) which gave an update on progress with developing the Bristol Apprenticeships offer, levy funding and joint working needed to embed apprenticeships as a primary source of staff development and training aligned to workforce planning. Committee Members were invited to support the Service by promoting apprenticeships in the City Council, local schools, and through the Levy Sharing scheme.


Key facts emphasised in the report were –


  1. There had been 121 fully registered Apprentice starts April to October 2021 and 35 others had commenced, placing the Council on target to achieve the Public Sector Duty of 221 starts and in a good position to achieve the stretch target of 250.
  2. The ‘On Site Bristol’ programme had seen record numbers of apprenticeship starts this year, with 159 places confirmed, this was an increase of 85% compared to 2020.
  3. 98% of total levy contributions had been spent this month, it was anticipated that next month would see a slight correction, however the underlying increasing trend continued and the predicted spend for the next 12-months now exceeded £1.01m.
  4. There had been zero levy expiry this month.


Following discussion and in response to Members questions the following points were raised/clarified:


  1. Levy Sharing was the Council’s money that was also shared with other organisations eg to support career coaches and other relevant work in the City.
  2. Spend was targeted at small to medium sized employers (SME’s) and voluntary organisations as this made up the largest sector in the Bristol economy. Every effort was made to incentivise small businesses to take on an apprentice.
  3. Members could provide support with promoting apprenticeships in the City Council and local schools, and through the Levy Sharing scheme, one way this could be accessed was via the Council’s ‘Bristol Works’ programme which was part of the Bristol Learning City Partnership to build a unique collaboration between employers, learning providers, and local communities to develop a skilled local workforce.
  4. Regarding retention of unused Levy funds, members were advised that despite attempts to achieve this, the Government remained steadfast that there would be no changes to its current policy. The Chair offered to write to the Government, on behalf of the Committee, to attempt to make progress on this.
  5. There continued to be a disparity with many Council departments regarding the creation of opportunities at a rate equal to 2.3%, however maintained schools continued not to engage with the scheme. It was not possible under current protocol to engage with Academies.
  6. In May 2022 there would be a major launch by the Mayor of a new scheme called ‘Building Bristol’ this could enable more opportunities for apprenticeships, not just in the construction industry but also in wider fields of work. Contracted Companies could assist with finance and liaise with schools, a new post was being created to lead on this work. 
  7. Having regard to the disparity in the number of male dominated positions in the Growth & Regeneration department, members were advised that this would be addressed through succession planning to identify these and other positions within the organisation to correct such imbalances.
  8. It was emphasised that COP26 provided a significant opportunity for both the apprenticeship scheme and the upskilling of the wider workforce. It was suggested that the committee’s report be sent to the Council’s Cabinet members so that greater attention could be given to it, the Chair agreed to this.
  9. Members requested that the apprentice scheme be added to the Work Programme for a future meeting so that more time could be given to consider it. Any questions that individual members had for the Head of Service (Employment, Skills & Learning), the Apprenticeship Manager and Cabinet members, could be done informally outside of this meeting, this was agreed.


Resolved - That the update on the progress of the Council’s apprenticeship provision for departmental staff, and staff employed within maintained schools, be noted.


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