How do we convince employers of the need to release apprentices for OTJ training?
Introduction: The Current Context
Since 2015, the Government has driven improvement in apprenticeships. This programme of reform was responsible for the launch of the levy and the introduction of standards, amongst other changes.
In 2019, Ofsted revised its inspection criteria, releasing the New Educational Framework. The emphasis of this NEF was on intent, implementation, and impact, with much-reduced credit given to achieving data-driven outcomes. With the apprenticeship reform's introduction of the behavioural standards, and now Ofsted introducing two of only four criteria that focus directly on these components, many providers are rightly worried about their next inspection visit.
This article is the second in a series of short reads covering the pain points faced by Apprenticeship Training Providers in this new world.
In this piece we take a look at the challenges faced by employers who struggle to release apprentices for off-the-job training.
The reluctance of employers to release apprentices for off-the-job training
When you are an employer, you look to get the most productivity from all your employees. When taking on an apprentice, the perception is that you are getting a less productive member of the team, but at a much lower pay rate. Therefore, further reducing productivity by releasing that employee for 20% off-the-job training was difficult for some to face. It is easy to see this as unreasonable by the employer, but losing an employee for a day a week is a burden for a small business.
Ironically, many employers also want a rapid return on any training the apprentice does receive. Many are impatient for the trainee to become a fully-fledged and qualified team member. Providers find that they need to frontload technical skills, moving through these standards quickly, which could be why some of the employability behaviours are ignored until later in the programme.
Stakeholder pressure is not unique to apprenticeship training providers, and it is the contradictory forces from some employers that make this such a conflict, as the client wants results but is unwilling to fully support the process.
The short-term challenges of employers cannot merely be ignored. The complexity of the modern workplace is undeniable, with the pandemic, supply chain concerns and more. While the employer may have committed to an apprentice, it may not be a decision made purely for developing new workers in that sector. The apprentice may have been brought on board as a means of reducing staffing costs and increasing productivity.
Consequently, though an employer wants a training provider to quickly bring this new worker up to speed, they are obviously going to want to limit the disruption to their daily operations. The question of how you bring an apprentice to a point of being competent without taking them out of the workplace is a conundrum, and one that takes some negotiation.
There are two ways Entelechy can help address these issues. First, the shaping of the character of employees ultimately makes them work-ready. With the right character, the apprentice can take more responsibility for helping become skilled and productive. Second, the approach Entelechy takes only works when undertaken in the flow of work. The behaviours are best developed in the workplace and while doing the job.
While some of the technical training will need to be done in a classroom away from the workplace, the behaviours can be developed every hour the apprentice spends doing the job. The Entelechy platform guides the apprentice to shape the right mindset to learn all the time.