The University of East Anglia (UEA) has recently reached the significant milestone of seeing the 100th person start an apprenticeship across a broad spectrum of professions and specialisms, in time for National Apprenticeship Week, which runs from 5 – 11 February.
While there are hundreds of types of apprenticeship available, 17 have been engaged with by participants at UEA across a broad spectrum of professions and specialisms, including; digital support technician, plumbing, accountancy, projects management, and early years educator. As an organisation, UEA is well placed to respond to requests for new apprenticeships.
Of the 17 on offer, the leadership apprenticeship, of which there are three levels available depending on experience and seniority, is the most popular. While the aspiring and developing apprenticeships are delivered by external training providers, The Senior Leader Programme is delivered by UEA through the Norwich Business School.
A number of UEA’s apprentices were already employed within the University, representing a significant investment in upskilling the current workforce. 63% of employees who completed their apprenticeship with UEA obtained a Distinction grade and the group so far has been made up of around 60% female and 40% male participants.
Of the apprentices who joined externally, three have already completed their placements. Reflecting the variety of apprenticeships on offer at UEA, the apprentices have worked across a range of areas - the Faculty of Science, UEA Nursery and within the IT and Computer Services (ITCS) department.
Jimmy Cross, Head of Research and Specialist Computing at UEA said:
“Due to the specialist skills required, it has been traditionally difficult to appoint skilled technical research computing roles. Appointing an apprentice allowed us to select from a wide range of applicants while ensuring that the successful applicant would gain the necessary skills throughout the apprenticeship. I look forward to seeing how our now qualified apprentice, Moinul will develop and will always be seeking opportunities to recruit more apprentices when possible.”
Eve Piercy joined UEA as an apprentice after seeing an advert on Indeed. Following the completion of her apprenticeship, she was employed as a School Administrator in the Faculty of Science. Eve said:
“I started my Business Administration Level 3 apprenticeship in September 2022 and finished it in January this year. I enjoyed the support I received from UEA, the managers seemed to want to see young people progress and climb the corporate ladder, so are very interested in staff development.
“I was able to put my skills into practice, while gaining feedback from colleagues who were all very patient and encouraging. I was given responsibilities that aligned with my learning material and given space for my creativity to enter the workspace.”
Eve hopes to continue with her personal development at UEA, exploring the skills required to become a Personal Assistant, and shadowing project work with a view to taking on the responsibility of leading on them in the future. With the confidence and experience she has gained at UEA, Eve is keen to recommend the apprenticeship route to others, saying:
“If people are looking at an apprenticeship, I’d say go for it. Growing your skills both in and outside of work is always valuable and makes you an asset to teams who are looking for a wider pool of talent. UEA is such a supportive environment to learn in and allows for adjustments to be made to your role helping you to complete your apprenticeship more effectively.”
To fund apprenticeships, companies that have an annual pay bill of more than £3 million are required to pay an Apprenticeship Levy at a rate of 0.5%, from which they can then draw back a sum to offer opportunities for learners.
As with many larger organisations, UEA is not able to utilise all of the sum available to them, while many smaller organisations, which would gain from apprenticeships, are not in a financial position to benefit due to the monetary demands of the scheme. With this in mind, and as a further way to support the local community in line with the University's civic agenda, UEA is a proud partner of Norfolk County Council’s Norfolk Apprenticeship Scheme (NAS).
The NAS acts as a link and enables UEA to gift unspent levy funds to Norfolk businesses so they can hire more staff or train their workforce – helping the county's economy to thrive and utilising money from businesses in the region to other local businesses, rather than the money being taken back by HMRC.
Nick Green, Head of Employee Apprenticeships and Early Careers at UEA, said:
“UEA is delighted to be a partner of Norfolk County Council’s Norfolk Apprenticeship Scheme. Our civic agenda has clearly set out our intentions to be an institution working for the betterment of the region and this is just the latest way in which we can make a real impact.
“We have already seen at UEA the positive difference that apprenticeships can make to individuals, the teams they sit within, and the wider organisation, and we look forward to seeing this development taking place in business we will be supporting through the Norfolk Apprenticeship Scheme.”