ESP Jason

With education being of paramount importance for all generations, it has never been more important, with the issues the country is facing in the state education system, that we pay attention to the education of the next generation

The Education and Skills Partnership (ESP) is a national training and education provider, and Platinum sat down with their Managing Director, Jason Hargreaves, to learn more about the business and sector

Could you give us an overview of what ESP does?
The ESP is a national independent training and education provider based in Ashford, Kent. ESP specialises in government funded programmes such as Adult Education Budget (AEB) along with apprenticeships and commercial training. Training is tailored to suit the needs of learner and employers, enabling them to reach their full potential.

What are the challenges in encouraging companies to take on apprenticeships?
Shortage of time is probably the biggest challenge as many businesses are concerned with the capacity and amount of time required by other staff members to support the apprentice. The 20% ‘off-the-job’ training is another. Although with real clarity on what can contribute to 20% ‘off-the-job’ training, along with the recent changes to the equivalent of at least six paid hours per week made within the funding, means this is less of a challenge.

Your apprentices come from a wide range of backgrounds such as school leavers, returners, and veterans. Is there any resistance to take up any category of apprentices from any of your client companies?
There is no resistance from our client companies to recruiting apprentices from a range of backgrounds. Some of our more established clients use the apprenticeship scheme to upskill and support staff for progression opportunities within their organisation; some of our clients, certainly in the telecoms industry, recruit school leavers and young people because of the lack of skilled individuals in the workplace.

What percentage of apprentices go on to long term employment with the placement company?
Currently 100% of our apprentices who complete and achieve their apprenticeship either remain in their existing role within their current organisation, receive promotion or new role within their current organisation, or 10% gain new and promoted roles outside of their current organisation.

For our readers that might not know, can you explain the difference between an apprenticeship and a graduate scheme?
The main difference between an apprenticeship and a graduate scheme is that young people and school leavers can enter an apprenticeship programme without having to undertake higher education in the first instance.

An individual entering an apprenticeship scheme has the opportunity to learn new knowledge, skills and behaviours whilst working within a specific paid job role that combines employment with on-the-job training and dedicated time (at least six paid hours per week) for studying during the working week. 

Apprenticeship programmes have a length from 12 to 48 months, and can achieve an apprenticeship qualification from Level 2 to Level 7, depending on the apprenticeship undertaken. At the end of the apprenticeship programme, apprentices complete an end-point assessment (EPA) and if successful, gain a nationally recognised qualification and certificate.

A graduate scheme is a structured programme that is generally open to individuals who have already completed higher education. This type of scheme is an employer-led training programme designed to develop potential future leaders within an organisation. There is no specific length of programme. However, on average, graduate schemes are undertaken between one to two years. 

One of the advantages of a graduate scheme is that individuals often have the opportunity to rotate around a business, providing exposure to a range of roles. Whilst on a graduate programme some employers ask their graduates to also undertake an apprenticeship. That said, this is not always the case, and graduates may complete their graduate programme with no additional qualifications or certificates. However, they gain greatly from the experience of undertaking varied roles.

How are the schemes funded, and what does it cost the employer?
The vast majority of our apprentices undertaking their apprenticeship programme are from a levy paying organisation. The Apprenticeship Levy is used to fund apprenticeship training; any employer with a salary bill of £3 million or over, pays 0.5% tax towards the levy scheme. We have a small number of apprentices that receive non-levy funded apprenticeship training where employers contribute 5% towards the cost of the apprenticeship, with the Government and Education and Skills Funding Agency paying the remaining 95%.

What continuing support do you offer client companies, and the apprentices?
Most of our clients are long term clients where ESP works with them collaboratively in supporting the training and development needs within their business. Our clients are supported in exploring the most suitable training and development options. They are supported, and we work collaboratively with them to design programmes that meet their training needs. Where employers have downsized, resulting in some apprentices being made redundant, ESP supports those apprentices in achieving their apprenticeship, providing support and guidance in CV writing and interview skills and offer guidance and support in finding alternative employment.

01233 632 111

LinkedIn: @education-and-skills-partnership-ltd 

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