The project, which started in September 2018, will increase the apprenticeship readiness of Year 11 school leavers in Copeland.
Through a structured programme of apprenticeship focused information, practical coaching and personal skills development, the project will give participants an ‘extra advantage’ and the best possible chance of benefitting from new oppourtunities in the local labour market.
Participants will be able to demonstrate: increased awareness and understanding of apprenticeships; improved skills and confidence for the workplace; and more effective skills for application and selection.
There is clear evidence of a need to support young people into apprenticeships in Copeland, supported by strong anecdotal feedback from local employers, skills providors and young people themselves. The most recent data on Apprenticeships in Cumbria shows that the number of young people starting new apprenticeships has reduced in the Copeland area. School leavers are consistently less likely to gain an apprenticeship compared to their 18 year old peers. In 2017, only 68 Copeland 16 year olds started apprenticeships, compared to 180 Copeland 18 year olds.
This is particularly concerning in the context of the national expectations for significantly increased apprenticeships uptake and both current and anticipated local skills needs among West Cumbria employers.
Also, evidence from an Inspira focus group conducted with 31 local school leavers found a lack of awareness about apprenticeship options especially compared to traditional academic options such as sixth form opportunities. The fact that there is no longer universal provision of impartial career information, advice and guidance in all schools could be a contributing factor.
Deborah Naylor, Area Operations Manager for Inspira, said “This innovative programme will help to level the playing field for disadvantaged young people by allowing them to give the best of themselves in competitive apprenticeship application processes. They will develop a better understanding of their own skills and qualities and of the needs of the labour market. They will work through a series of experimental activities that will be motivational and which will help address any gaps in their portfolios.”
Additional funding of £5,380 was provided from Inspira’s own funds.