Dynamo 15 was a fantastic event. It was even better than last year’s and I’m already looking forward to next year. In one way or another I was quite involved in some of the breakout themes. I had a couple of talks prepared but Bob decided to do a David Dimbleby and go for a Question Time style so here’s the one I never got to use.
It was within the skills theme and under the title of ‘Grow your own’.
What is the story I am trying to tell? The local authorities need to contribute to the development of young people but we have a problem in that we can’t guarantee them a job.
Actually we have a number of problems or development opportunities as they are now called. We have an aging population but none of us are getting any younger. Austerity has been in place for many of us for five years now and still has a few years to go. That’s not a whinge. The tight financial constraint has created opportunities to do things that we would never have done in easier times.
It is estimated that 90% of all jobs advertised now require some form of ICT skills. There is no council service that does not rely upon ICT to deliver their services and dependency upon ICT will only become greater in the future.
As local authority employees we are committed to the economic and social welfare of our residents. That is what we are here for. Helping to bring apprentices up to a marketable position is a way that we can contribute. Ensuring that there are sufficient skilled employees within the region will be an important requirement in enabling the ICT industry to grow.
Currently only 4% of 15 year olds want to work in technology and engineering.
Not all organisations are able to commit to taking on apprentices full time and it is likely that there is a demand for and willingness to have apprentices even on a part-time basis, especially in SMEs and community and voluntary organisations.
Durham ICT Services are setting up an Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA). The council will take on apprentices and loan them out on a chargeable basis to organisations that are not able to commit fully to an apprentice. This will not cost anything to set up and will allow the council to manage apprentices who may be working outside of the Council’s premises.
The ATA will work with more than one training agency, probably three, to cover the different areas of the county to provide level 3 and level 4 qualifications. Our existing apprentices will be allocated to the ATA and will be used to develop the programme further working with potential recipient organisations.
Additional apprentices will be taken on as the programme develops and a percentage fee will be levied against the cost to any recipient organisations. This fee will be used to provide an additional part-time resource to monitor and manage the apprentices.
Apprentice training fees will be covered from available grants. Wages will be paid by the Council.
The ATA will work with training providers to increase the numbers of apprentices that are women and from underrepresented groups and will be ready for the August / September intake.
This will mean: More apprentices; More organisations involved; Greater experience for the apprentices; leading to Improved marketability; Improved and more rounded skills base across multiple disciplines; More jobs; A greater council contribution to the regional economy
Work will be undertaken with potential client organisations to test market acceptance of the proposal, get an understanding of demand and the likelihood of sustainable employment.