The first meeting of the Erasmus+ funded project that is looking into how Small & Medium sized Enterprises (SME’s) can be encouraged to take on more Apprentices took place on 4-5th November, 2015 at the Bestwood Lodge Hotel in Gedling, Nottinghamshire.
The meeting was enthusiastically attended by partners from Germany (IBBf); Bulgaria (Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce); Poland (ZSL of Poznan); UK (Gedling Borough Council & NGi (UK) Limited); with our Canadian partners (Canadian Apprenticeship Forum) joining us via the wonders of modern technology on the second day.
Both day’s were chaired by Stephen Bray, the Corporate Director at the Council with responsibility for Economic Development. The first day revolved around scene setting and agreed working relationships and establishing a Memorandum of Understanding to govern the work of the 3-year project. Work went onto late in the evening where our European Colleagues were shown some of the cultural sights of the City of Nottingham, the highlight of which was a large impromptu student pillow fight in the Old Market Square. At the end of which the Market Square resembled a ‘winter wonderland’ scene with pillow feathers everywhere, much to the bemusement of our European partners.
The second day was spend explaining and understanding the Apprenticeship context in each partner country and it was fascinating to discover just how different Apprenticeships are country by country, but also reassuring to discover that the barriers faced by SME’s in each country are broadly similar in nature.
One fact however, underlines the scope of the challenge that exists in the UK: In Germany 50% of young people progress into an Apprenticeship after leaving education; in Canada this figure is 30%. In the UK the latest data shows the same figure to be 5%.
The next project meeting is scheduled to take place in Berlin in early March 2016 where our German and Canadian partners will be showcasing some of their best practice involving SME’s engaging with young people through Apprenticeships.