Apprenticeships East Sussex minutes 24 January 2024

Apprenticeships East Sussex minutes 24 January 2024

Meeting details

Held ON: Wednesday 24th January 2024 at 10:30-12:30, Agrifood Centre, Plumpton College







Caroline Bragg

Chair - ESCC, Employability & Skills Strategy Manager


Dan Karlsson

Plumpton College, Head of Business Partnerships


David Laird

ESCC, Pre-Employment Coordinator


Jennie Cole

East Sussex Careers Hub, Enterprise Co-ordinator


Jonathan Vinney

CXK, National Careers Service Area Manager


Steve Sefton

University of Brighton, Business Development Advisor


Sara Taylor

Eastbourne and Lewes Councils, Regeneration officer


Vanessa Potter

SCTP, Executive Director



Hannah Brookshaw

ESCC, Partnerships and Projects Manager


Laura Collier

ESCC, Senior Business Administrator



Claire Witz

Sussex Chamber of Commerce


Donna Harfield

ESCG, Vice Principal Business Development


Geraldine Turton

University of Brighton, Apprenticeships Manager


Hayley Robertson

ESCG, Apprenticeships Team

1. Welcome and introductions

CB welcomed all in attendance, including JV as a new member.

2. Review of Previous Minutes & Actions

Actions from the previous meeting are on today’s agenda.

VP reported that the Apprenticeship Graduation event went well, with 45 graduates, 20 employers and 20 training providers involved. There was good engagement and planning is about to start for the next year’s event.

3. AES action plan review – partner updates

CB shared the AES action plan, with updates highlighted red and focus on:

1.2 – University of Brighton have DfE funding for an employer engagement project, to find out what employers need. This is to create resources for employers and enable progression pathways, identifying level of awareness and need of knowledge. CB suggested weaving engagement and retention into this work. UoB are due to meet with SCTP and the Sussex Chamber of Commerce.

1.3 Guidance for employers on supporting and retaining young people/ new entrants to support them to achieve in the workplace.

An induction was suggested so that employers have a better understanding of that they are taking on. Plumpton College is working on mentor training for employers. They are currently looking at internal funding and capacity for this. Mentoring skills are transferable. There is a big difference between past and current cohorts as attitudes and social skills have changed. Mentor training could also be applied to work experience and T-Levels, for example. CB agreed that there is work to be done on setting expectations and what employers do when things go wrong.

SS suggested a peer-to-peer support system. TrAC have a good support programme for apprenticeships and have expanded beyond the construction sector. As business owners can’t always afford the time to spend on mentor training, a shared programme for mentors was proposed. DK reported that there are so many boxes that have to be ticked when taking on an apprentice, which can be information overload for the apprentice and employer. It is an ongoing evolution to provide a good customer experience.

Action 1: Look out for funding to run cross-sectoral apprenticeship mentoring programme.

2.1 Providers to work collaboratively with groups of employers to develop specialist courses to meet skills shortages.

Providers to update on the agenda.

3.1 Promote take up of the full ASK offer in schools. Encourage training providers and employers to present to pupils, parents/carers and teachers/schools; and

3.4 SCTP to work with Careers Hub to develop directory of training providers for schools to support them to meet Provider Access Legislation (PAL). Hub to work with schools to provide greater number of interventions about apprenticeships through careers guidance, Open Doors visits and employability programmes.

The Careers Hub have a meeting with VP booked. VP expects funding for ASK to be extended to July 2024. CB reported that a lot of work has been done to promote apprenticeships but sometimes the reality part is missing. Work-readiness of the young person is a barrier. A lot of young people now have no previous work experience or concept of sacrifice for work. SCTP have a meeting next month to get more detailed feedback on how to embed awareness into their schools workshops. They have started asking schools if they would like an apprenticeship ambassador to come along. CB reported that ESCC are requiring all new apprentices to sign up as Apprentice Ambassadors and go in to schools. VP said that all that sign up through the Apprenticeship Service account will be automatically notified when a request comes through and receive training to do a ‘my story’ presentation. VP to find out if there is a reality-check area in the current training.

Action 2: SCTP and Careers Hub to review section 3 of the action plan and highlight where the challenges are.


The Careers and Enterprise Company have asked the Careers Hub to review the ATE Framework criteria between May-June 2024. Further information to follow.

4. National Apprenticeship Week planning, 5th-11th February 2024 – events, opportunities and engagement

CB reported that Transform and SCTP have created some case studies which talk positively about apprenticeships. These will be shared via social media and other communications. The Careers Hub also have communications planned for that week, including video of apprentices and supported apprenticeships from Little Gate Farm. Amazing Apprenticeships have also developed a range of posters for schools/colleges which were printed and sent this week.

DK reported that Plumpton College are focusing on internal activities, raising awareness amongst full-time students as a progression pathway option. A recruitment consultant will be doing talks with DWP and the Youth Employability Hub at Plumpton College.

VP informed the group that the DfE have a live map of activity across the country to submit events taking place during NAW. Internal events could also be submitted as case studies. SCTP are in job centres to do online sessions for work coaches on 7 February. ASK/CXK will be running a virtual session in Hastings on 6 February.

JV updated that the National Careers Service have been approached by East Kent job centres to run an apprenticeship workshop on 6 February. East Sussex claimants can also sign up for this free workshop. JV to share the flyer.

SS reported that the University of Brighton is also going to have an internal focus that week. Social media will be output daily, stands will be displayed in the main foyers and the intranet will be refreshed.

CB raised the question of whether internal delegates find their own employers when they move from course to apprenticeship. The University of Brighton often match employers to an existing under-graduate but it is down to individual choice. The university hopes to be able to use some funding to set up a matching service. Plumpton College try not to search for potential candidates amongst its full-time student base; matches are usually made as a progression or where the learner has done a work placement with the employer.

DL will be working with some ambassadors before National Apprenticeship Week to get them involved in events.

CB announced that Eastbourne Borough Council have agreed to sponsor the Apprenticeship Roadshow at the Welcome building in Eastbourne again this year. The events in Eastbourne and Hastings will be commissioned by the Careers Hub.

Action 3: ALL to send National Apprenticeships Week events to Skills East Sussex for promotion via the Careers Hub/ESCC.

5. Apprenticeship Provider updates

ESCG – sent apologies due to training day.

Plumpton College – achievement rate was 65% last year. This is lower than in previous years, mainly due to the low rate in arboriculture (38%). Employers are not seeing the full value of this programme as the value is in tickets rather than certification. Without arboriculture figures, the achievement rate would be more like 84%, a marginal increase on last year. Large national contracts make up 50-60% of start numbers. The college finished 10-15% up on where they forecast to be. Challenges are transport and funding bands but the overall picture is positive. Golf Green Keeping is a new apprenticeship for next year, with a cohort of 14. Plumpton College have been nominated at the National Apprenticeship awards again this year in February.

SCTP – Nationally for 2022-23, apprenticeship starts were down by 3.5%. Ages 16-18 accounted for 25% of starts. Nearly 70% came through levy. Achievement rates are growing with 18.3% national increase. Caution was advised around achievement rates as these work on the year apprenticeships are expected to finish so have been impacted by Covid-19, for example. General feedback is that some sectors are seeing a growing demand, others a decline. Providers have to be innovative to deliver quality programmes with reduced funding. Some providers have gone out of business in the last year. Challenges are funding bands not being appropriate in some areas to deliver what’s needed and not enough funding for functional skills delivery.

There was a discussion about how many training providers were charging above the funding band and the start-up cost barriers for small businesses. Are people valuing the training they’re getting? There are dedicated apprenticeship programmes for large cohorts but small cohorts are difficult to justify. Funding for classroom-based learning is more attractive than work-based. EPA has caused additional bureaucracy and affected achievement rate.

University of Brighton – 240 apprenticeship starts so far for this current academic year; up 6% compared to last year. Achievement sits around 85%. The level 7 solicitor course has been revamped. There is increasing scope with social work; a level 7 course will sit alongside the level 6 course. The university is trying to introduce a level 6 data analyst course in 2025 as part of the Institute of Technology offer. Podiatrist and Healthcare Assistant practitioner courses will hopefully be replaced with a new combined pathway for Allied Health professionals, as much of the initial learning in similar, as a way to be more cost effective. There are good conversion rates onto the Nurse Associate pathways. Interest in the Senior Leader course should increase if the MBA is included again. The university is working with the IoT on getting new higher technical qualifications (HTQs) established for digital and construction sectors (level 4/5).

6. Further partner/stakeholder updates

JC reported that Henry is promoting the Open Doors project. Employers with apprentices are being asked if they can share their experience at these events.

HB informed the group that the Careers East Sussex website is in the process of being updated with 12 different NHS/adult social care job roles being prioritised. A broad range of people working in those roles with different experiences/ pathways into the role are being filmed. The project is specific to East Sussex but could be replicated in West Sussex.

ST is to use LinkedIn as a way to engage with more employers.

Action 4: HB to check whether there is someone from CXK on the Health & Social Care task group and let JV know.

7. Any other business/next meeting

Plumpton College is hosting an apprenticeship celebration event on 24 April, for 2023 graduates. All invited.

As above, CB reported that the Careers & Enterprise Company would like another ATE workshop to run like last year to re-evaluate the framework and progress. This workshop would include inviting employers involved in last year’s workshop, which could be useful in terms of reporting on progress to date. This must take place between May-June (due to national nature of ATE workshops), the next AES meetings are scheduled for April and July so we may need to reschedule the next one. CB will keep the group updated once she has further information.

VP asked the group to look out for communications about this year’s Roadshows and Graduation events, including the opportunity to be part of the steering group to support event development and planning. There will be sponsorship opportunities for the graduation.

Action 5: Careers Hub to meet with VP to discuss Apprenticeship Roadshows.

Date of the next meeting: 25th April 10.30-12.00 (subject to change due to the CEC requirement to undertake a refresh of the ATE workshop during May-June 2024).