The success is the result of working closely with Gedling Borough Council in Nottinghamshire. The Economic Development team at the council as part of their efforts to drive economic growth within the Borough devised an initiative to drive SME engagement of apprentices. This is important to the region of Gedling because it has very few large employers but a substantial number of SMEs, because of the market barriers these organisations face in recruiting, supporting and mentoring an apprentice the region is in danger of not being able to take advantage of national strategy to increase apprenticeships. National research has clearly established that SMEs have a very much lower engagement rate than larger businesses, and indeed if you examine micro business engagement it is very low.
Gedling Borough approached NGi with this need and over the course of 6-months NGi, working closely with the Borough Council put together the project plan, identified the right partnership and put this into an application for funding direct to the European Union.
Partners include a Canadian organisation whose reason for being is to increase SME engagement of apprentices and a German partner who research VET initiatives and report on successful innovation in this arena. Given the increasing growth rate of SME engagement with apprenticeships in Canada and Germany's well established delivery and infrastructure models which see a very high SME engagement in this area we should be able to identify best practice which would be internationally transferable and/or adaptable.
Partners from the UK, Bulgaria and Poland will seek best practice to implement within their own country.
Further all partners will work to establish an innovative programme of support and training for the managers of SME to use in engaging with apprenticeships. On completion of the project it is envisaged that in these 3 countries, specialist teams will exist whose role it is to assist and support SMEs in apprenticeship engagement.