Plymouth City Council has been running a highly successful award winning apprenticeship scheme since 2011.
The scheme is open to anyone aged 16 and over who holds GCSE grades or equivalent. Due to funding restrictions we cannot accept graduates.
We currently offer over 10 apprenticeship frameworks including project management, business administration, street cleansing, customer service, accountancy and horticulture.
Apprentices are employed as full time staff on temporary 12 month contracts. You pay their salary and provide them with a work placement and the training provider (a college or training establishment) will provide them with the qualifications.
By employing an apprentice in your team you will have an enthusiastic, young person who will bring new ideas and ways of working to your team, they are cost effective and can be seen as an alternative to employing agency staff.
The apprenticeship scheme is led by two apprenticeship coordinators who support your apprentice during their placement, help with recruitment and liaise with the training provider.
For further information, please read the document below or visit the Plymouth Apprenticeships website.
Frequently asked questions
- How are apprentice roles created and advertised?
- What types of apprenticeships are available?
- What is the role of the learning provider?
- What training do apprentices undertake?
- How long does an apprenticeship take?
- What are Council apprentices paid?
- What does the Council pay towards the cost of the apprenticeship training?
- Are apprentices entitled to holidays and sick pay and flexi-time?
- What is the line manager of the apprentice responsible for?
- Do line managers of apprentices need to have Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks as they could potentially be working closely with a 16 year old apprentice?
- Will apprentices have a temporary or permanent contract of employment?
- When would an apprentice start with the Council - the beginning of an academic year?
- What if someone over 25 or someone with a degree wants to apply for an apprenticeship?
- How is an apprentice's progress reviewed?
- Who does an apprentice go to if they have a problem?
- What factors enable apprentices to succeed?
- What is the apprentice coordinator responsible for?
How are apprentice roles created and advertised?
A manager may decide to convert a vacancy into an Apprentice Opportunity, in which case the recruitment team, with support from the National Apprentice Service, identify suitable and funded training providers who will advertise and shortlist potential suitable apprentices.
More information about the apprenticeship recruitment process is below.
What types of apprenticeships are available?
There are more than 190 job roles available for apprentices across a vast range of professions, such as Business Administration, Customer Services, Horticulture, Catering. You can find out more about the types of apprenticeships available on the National Apprenticeship Service website.
They generally fall into one of two categories:
- Apprenticeships equivalent to Level 2 (GCSE level)
- Advanced apprenticeships equivalent to Level 3 (A levels)
Apprenticeship training is linked to an NVQ, therefore if formal NVQ training is not available for that type of work, it may not be possible to offer an apprenticeship.
The Council works with learning providers such as Plymouth City College, Accountancy Plus and the College of Art and Design who all have apprenticeship frameworks.
What is the role of the learning provider?
The learning provider is usually a local college or specialist training organisation responsible for an apprentice's off-the-job training. Once the apprentice starts work, the learning provider provides an assessor who will visit the apprentice once a month in their place of work to make sure that the training programme is well planned and to work with the Council apprentice coordinator to track progress and support around any issues that may arise.
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What training do apprentices undertake?
Currently Apprenticeship qualifications are:
- A competency based NVQ (level 2 or 3)
- A technical certificate
- Functional skills certificate
NVQs are due to be phased out and under the newly established Qualification Credit Framework (QCF), there are two different levels of Apprenticeship competency based qualification:
- Foundation Apprenticeship which leads to a full Level 2 Qualification or Diploma and is equivalent to 5 GCSEs at grades A to C
- Advanced Apprenticeship which leads to a full Level 3 Qualification or Diploma (minimum of 37 credits) and is equivalent to 2 A level passes or 4 AS Level passes.
Roughly speaking, the apprentice would usually work 80 per cent of their time in the workplace, with 20 per cent of the time spent studying towards the qualifications. This varies significantly dependent on the apprentice and the course, and may not always be day release.
How long does an apprenticeship take?
The length of an apprenticeship varies depending on prior skills levels of the apprentice, the qualification being obtained and industry sector. Within Plymouth City Council, contracts are typically offered for a minimum of one year initially and will be reviewed on an individual basis and extended as appropriate to a maximum of 18 months.
What are Council apprentices paid?
The current pay rates for apprentices we employ can be found on the pay page. These rates are reviewed annually in line with the National Minimum Wage.
There is also a cost, in terms of management time, of the additional supervision, support and mentoring that need to be put in place to support the apprentice – particularly in the early days of the apprenticeship.
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What does the Council pay towards the cost of the apprenticeship training?
The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) makes a financial contribution for the training direct to the training provider. For most apprentices undertaking level 2 and level 3 apprenticeshis, this contribution fully covers the training costs.
For apprentices over the age of 25 or in the posession of a level 4 qualification this contribution may not fully cover the training costs, in which case any remaining cost is expected to be topped up by the employer. This amount will depend on the course, and the training provider.
City College Plymouth have confirmed that they will not expect any additional top up contribution from Plymouth City Council for apprentices aged between 16 and 25 who undertake their Business Administration or Customer Care apprenticeships.
To discuss the potential costs for taking on an apprentice, please contact the Recruitment Team in the first instance.
Are apprentices entitled to holidays and sick pay and flexi-time?
Apprentices are entitled to the same rates of holiday entitlement and sickness pay as other employees, and flexi-time as appropriate dependent on the service area.
What is the line manager of the apprentice responsible for?
The apprentice's line manager, with support from the apprentice coordinator, must give the apprentice an induction into their role and must supervise them and provide on-the-job training.
It is therefore important that managers considering apprenticeships in their areas factor this in to any decision.
Line managers meet with the training provider and apprentice on a periodic basis to review progress and to discuss any issues that may have arisen.
The line manager also provides the apprentice with release time to complete their portfolio of evidence.
Do line managers of Apprentices need to have Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks as they could potentially be working closely with a 16 year old apprentice?
As apprentices are directly employed by the Council, individuals working closely with apprentices are not required to have a CRB check.
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Will apprentices have a temporary or permanent contract of employment?
A training contract will be issued to the apprentice with no guarantee of employment at the end. Contracts are offered for one year initially and will be reviewed on an individual basis and extended as appropriate to a maximum of 18 months. All apprentices will have an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) which will be discussed fully with both the line manager and the apprentice at the beginning of the apprenticeship. The ILP sets out Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed (SMART) objectives which will be reviewed throughout the apprenticeship.
Whilst there is no obligation to offer work after the apprenticeship has been completed, it is important that we as employers are reasonable. During the last month of the apprentice's contract, they will be provided access to the vacancies on the redeployment register. It should be stressed that apprentices will not be eligible to apply for redeployment opportunities in competition with those Council employees genuinely at risk of redundancy or who are seeking redeployment opportunities because of ill health. However, it is hoped that by enabling apprentices to apply for positions in this way, will enable apprentices to be considered for suitable posts (either within their own department or elsewhere across the authority) before their apprenticeship expires.
When would an apprentice start with the Council – the beginning of an academic year?
It will depend on the position vacancy and course provider, but does not necessarily follow an academic year.
What if someone over 25 or someone with a degree wants to apply for an apprenticeship?
Apprentices who are over the age of 25 or who have Level 4 and above (post A Level) qualifications, are not eligible for funding through the apprenticeship scheme.
We cannot restrict applications by age or over qualification due to age discrimination legislation.
This means that the employer may be asked to contribute to up to 100 per cent of their training costs - due to the nature of apprenticeship roles and their marketing, relatively few applicants fall into these categories.
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How is an apprentice's progress reviewed?
It is built into the apprenticeship contract that those on an apprenticeship programme must have satisfactory attendance and performance during their formal training to continue in the scheme.
An initial review will be held after four weeks. Thereafter managers are advised to review performance regularly with the apprentice. Additionally, reviews will be undertaken every 12 weeks by the training provider which will involve both the apprentice and the line manager. This is an opportunity to review progress and to discuss any concerns. If the employee performs poorly at work this should be addressed in the usual way. Advice may be sought from your HR Adviser. Greater levels of support may be required and our normal performance expectations may need to be adjusted accordingly. If there are serious concerns about an apprentice's performance, attitude, etc which cannot be resolved through normal management processes then case conferences can be held with the training provider with a view to working together to find a resolution.
Who does an apprentice go to if they have a problem?
The line manager should be able to resolve any work related issues or concerns. If the apprentice has spoken to their line manager and is still in need of help they can approach the apprentice coordinator who will be able to advise them on the correct course of action.
The apprentice should approach their learning provider if they have any training related questions or concerns.
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What factors enable apprentices to succeed?
Local Government Improvement and Development, NAS and Improvement and Efficiency West Midlands identify the key success factors for ensuring successful completion of an apprenticeship programme as:
- ensuring they understand the requirements of the apprenticeship
- developing a good working relationship with the training provider
- ensuring that the apprentice's job role supports the achievement of the NVQ aspect of the apprenticeship
- ensuring that the rest of the team or work group is aware of what the apprentice will be doing and how they can offer support
- using their supervisory skills to give regular, constructive and formative feedback to apprentices about their performance
- being prepared to contribute to work-based assessment
- offering the apprentice coaching in key workplace activities and processes
- contributing to effective induction
What is the apprentice coordinator responsible for?
The apprentice coordinator supports managers to establish apprenticeships in their areas and provides individual support and guidance to approximately 110 apprentices and their managers on the operation of the Apprentice Scheme.
Apprentice coordinators oversee the programme and liaise with all parties including the training provider and line manager to ensure its' smooth running.
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