City Skills Give Apprenticeship Boost to Norfolk County Council

With a workforce of more than 7,000 people, Norfolk County Council (NCC) is one of the largest employers in the region, paying regularly into the Apprenticeship Levy.

This National Apprenticeship Week, apprenticeship advisor, Emma Murgatroyd, one of five members of the NCC apprenticeship team, explains how important apprenticeships are for the County Council workforce plans and how they support more than 300 learners currently on a programme with the help of training provider City Skills.

Emma Says, “Within NCC we pay the apprenticeship levy every month and hold funds on behalf of the Council and Local Authority Schools. We are really keen to utilise those funds and so apprenticeships are forming a big part of our workforce plans.”

Norfolk County Council currently supports more than 300 apprentices currently on an apprenticeship and the programmes range from a business administration Level 3, which supports a business support post all the way up to senior leadership apprenticeships at Level 7, which are currently being undertaken by County Council assistant directors.

City Skills applied to the NCC register of training providers and have started to deliver the Operations Departmental Manager level 5 apprenticeship, Improvement Practitioner level 4 and Improvement Leader level 6 apprenticeships, as well as the Learning and Development Consultant level 5.

Says Emma, “Our apprentices tell us they want to work with City Skills because of the positive experience they have had.”

The decision to use apprenticeships, particularly for more senior positions is really paying dividends for the County Council, as Emma explains, “Compared to off-the-shelf courses, apprenticeships bring roundness to the learning experience; they offer overall development that allows the apprentice to implement what they’re learning within their role every day. This leads to changes in work practices and approaches, which have a huge impact on services and departments. We are really feeling the benefits of apprenticeships across the Council.”

The move to remote working during the pandemic put an enormous strain on the delivery of apprenticeships, but to support work in a hybrid world, City Skills offer a remote delivery model that enables apprentices to access knowledge and content from where ever they are and employers to offer apprenticeships in cohort numbers that wouldn’t be feasible in a face to face model.

Despite this move, however, there has been no compromise on quality.

“We have some apprenticeships that face-to-face delivery is vital for, for example, some require day release attendance at local colleges, but the virtual delivery model definitely really lends itself to the apprenticeships that City Skills deliver”, says Emma.

“Every single one of our apprentices working with City Skills has mentioned the quality of the tutors and how invaluable it is to have access to them, to work with them and benefit from their knowledge and experience. That simply wouldn’t be possible if it was only offered face-to-face.”

This national apprenticeship week’s theme is Build the Future and apprenticeships will continue to play a vital role for NCC’s future workforce development plans.

“Apprenticeships are certainly opening doors allowing people to apply for positions that they wouldn’t have been able to in the past or if they hadn’t completed an apprenticeship and the opportunities to progress are massive.”

“Our plan is to continue to utilise the levy to continue to promote and raise awareness of apprenticeships and the benefits that they can bring. We want to use apprenticeships to upskill our staff, we want to invest in them, make them feel valued and ultimately make them want to stay within Norfolk County Council or the school setting they are in.”