Businesses urged to 'Recruit Smart’ with new Higher Level Apprenticeships

Businesses urged to 'Recruit Smart’ with new Higher Level Apprenticeships
September, 2015
South West College, supported by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL), Ulster University, Queen’s University and many leading employers across the South West region is delighted to announce a major new jobs initiative for the South West region. 

The College has secured funding to secure up to 150 places on 10 new pilot Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA) programmes specific to industry needs.  These programmes will offer employers an opportunity to ‘recruit smart’ by addressing the urgent gap in high-level skills shortages increasingly evident across the region.   As stated by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB); ‘The most frequently cited cause of hard-to-fill vacancies is that applicants lack the skills required (80%)’These programmes will aim to address this issue.

Malachy McAleer, South West College Director, said;

“The College is delighted to be able to offer high-end skills development opportunities to companies in the South West region and beyond.  This initiative will provide a major boost for industry and will change the way skills are developed to meet urgent priority needs for employers.  At South West College we want to deliver education that supports industry, satisfies employers and prepares apprentices for real jobs with great career prospects”.

A Higher Level Apprenticeship is widely recognised as the best combination of on the job training and employee higher level study available.  The unique programme offers employees the opportunity to gain a third level qualification at Foundation Degree level, whilst improving business practice by developing a progressively skilled workforce essential for today’s competitive global market. 

The Higher Level Apprenticeship model is ideal for businesses seeking new recruits or wishing to upskill existing employees to take on new responsibilities.  In terms of involvement employers and participants have two options; 1. New job recruitment:  where employers take on a HLA student as part of a recruitment process, supported by an apprenticeship advisor at South West College, or 2. In-house upskilling:  If an employer can identify a skills gap in their workforce that could be addressed with a current employee, the Higher Level Apprenticeship will provide an excellent opportunity for upskilling at a minimum cost to the company.
South West College has led the way in developing the Higher Level Apprenticeship framework within Northern Ireland having successfully delivered two Higher Level Apprenticeship pilots; one in   Engineering (Gold Programme) and the other in ICT.   Due to the success of these programmes the College is now offering 10 new pilot programmes in key priority skills areas such as; Renewable Technology, Information Technology, Engineering, Sustainable Construction & BIM, Civil Engineering, Accountancy, Insurance, Food Manufacturing, Automotive Technology, Creative Technology.

Anne McKiver, Managing Director, Kiverco, has employed Higher Level Apprentices and is a strong supporter of the programme.  Anne said;

“The South West College programme was great for both of us and our students/employees.  Throughout the programme they were actively involved within many areas of our manufacturing process, from design through to fabrication, fitting and installation.  The academic and practical components of the programme taught at South West College complement the engineering sector very well, with the apprentices gaining invaluable hands on experience and skills while learning the theory behind it.”

There are many benefits for employers including; the ability to meet the needs of their business, increase productivity, recruitment from a larger talent pool, the development of existing staff, filling higher level skills gaps, ability to attract higher calibre staff and above all training to match the business’ specific requirements.

As an enhancement to the new Higher Level Apprenticeship programme being offered by South West College, a SMART Development Voucher will be available for each of the businesses participating in the programme. 

Each Voucher will allow the participating business to access up to two days of assistance from the College’s Innovation Centre team which may be used to begin the investigation into a new business innovation activity  such as product  and service design, prototyping, testing,  R&D scoping. Sectors include engineering, construction, energy, IT, Digital Media and Professional Services.

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For further information:

Contact: Noreen McGirr HLA Employer Liaison M: 07734 281 026 W: 028 8772 0677
Una Taylor Personal Development and Employability Mentor W: 028 8772 0623