Where are we now?
The Greater Manchester Urban Area has a population of more than two million. The City of Manchester lies at the centre of the wider Greater Manchester Urban Area. During the twentieth and twenty-first centuries the area has seen a shift of employment into the service sector. The city has experienced extensive regeneration to the centre and residential areas, and over the last decade the number of people employed in the city has risen, although there is still widespread poverty. Many people remain out of work, and in poorer neighbourhoods, people’s quality of life is poor. In 2009 unemployment in Manchester stood at 5.4 per cent, an increase of nearly two percentage points on the previous year. During the same period, available vacancies shrank by 50 per cent.
As of 2007, Manchester’s economy was the fastest growing in the UK. Manchester is also the regional power house of economic growth. 88.7 per cent of workplaces in the area are small organisations of up to 24 employees. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and large organisations make up a large proportion of the total number of employers in the Manchester area (10.6 per cent in Manchester, compared to 0.6 per cent nationally).
School results are improving but are behind the national average, and this impacts upon the ways in which young people can access both further/higher education and the workplace. In 2008, 82.1 per cent of Year 11 school leavers went on to full-time education, 2.6 per cent into Apprenticeships and 0.9 per cent into jobs without training. 6.7 per cent went on to be NEET. Many young people were leaving school without any qualifications – in some parts of the city more than one in seven young people left school without qualifications. The issue remains a concern for the Council, as it hampers young people's ability to get on in life. The City Council has prioritised worklessness in its local area agreement (LAA).
Apprenticeships are a visible and respected route into employment, but are most strongly associated with trades. MCC recognised Apprenticeships as a key approach to building skills, wellbeing and prosperity. A particular challenge facing Apprenticeships in the area is ensuring that new places are stimulated within the city, to offer the anticipated opportunities for Manchester residents.
What’s the ambition?
Manchester’s vision for Apprenticeships is that they will raise the aspirations both of young people in the city, and of its community and workforce. MCC has committed itself to skills development through building on the competency base of existing employees, and offering opportunities to workless residents. In December 2007 Manchester City Council signed the Skills Pledge, a public commitment to improving the quality of skills in the area. The Apprenticeship strategy, linked to the Skills Pledge, is committed to providing realistic and, crucially, sustainable training opportunities for local young people. These opportunities are focused on young people from the most deprived wards and priority schools (the top five ‘NEET producing’ schools), although some initiatives target specific groups such as the Young People into Construction Programme, which prioritises young people NEET, looked-after children (LAC) and black and minority ethnic groups (BME).
MCC is striving to play a key role in driving economic regeneration and development in the area. The three key principles underlying the Apprenticeship strategy are: the role of the local authority in offering opportunities; extending the reach of Apprenticeships to those on the margins of learning and work; and establishing Apprenticeships as a popular and highly regarded learning pathway. The aim of the Council is for 100 per cent of employees to be qualified to level 2 by 2015.
Putting the vision into practice
Existing employees within the Council who are currently qualified at below level 2 are targeted for an Apprenticeship conversion, whilst all new recruits to the Council who are not already qualified to level 2 will begin employment as part of an Apprenticeship framework.
In order to support young people with fewer academic qualifications, the Apprenticeship strategy encourages a competency-based model of recruitment, with a focus on skills such as communication, team working, motivation, commitment and adaptability. Connexions encourages employers who have asked for minimum qualification requirements to offer competency-based recruitment.
Despite the local authority being one of the major employers in the city (and acting as a role model to other employers locally), MCC recognises that significant expansion of 16–18 Apprenticeship places will not be achieved via this route alone. The Council has a rolling recruitment of employers, and has developed their own Apprenticeship initiatives in partnership with other organisations. Employers are encouraged to register their vacancies on the ‘cnx2jobs’ website, created by Connexions. Employers who register a vacancy on cnx2jobs are offered free recruitment support from Connexions, such as advertising the vacancy in Connexions centres and matching young people with the vacancy using computerised databases.
The 14–19 team proposed the establishment of a Manchester City Council Careership Programme, which would see the creation of 100 externally advertised new 16–18 Apprenticeship vacancies annually. The Careership Programme would be rolled out to other employers across the city. Discussions are under way with local universities and the Primary Care Trust looking at the possibility of Apprenticeship in the NHS. An internal ‘officers’ group has been established to progress this activity.
Reflecting on progress
The first Apprenticeship offered as part of the Apprenticeship strategy – a joint initiative devised and funded by Northwest Vision and Media, Skillset, the BBC and the local LSC – offered media training for young people aged 16–22, and initially recruited 20 young people. Since then, a range of employers have been involved with the Apprenticeship strategy and offer competency based Apprenticeship recruitment. MCC ensures that the strategy is sustainable by not relying on external funding sources.
Last Updated: 27/09/2010