Here at LSBU we are fully aware that deciding to take on new apprentices or send existing staff on apprenticeships is a very important decision, and choosing the right provider to partner with you throughout the whole process is vital. We have been helping businesses train their employees for over 125 years and currently work with more than 1,000 organisations to train 6,000 employees, meaning around one-third of our students are sponsored by their employers to study here. The fact that we are the London University with the largest number of employer-sponsored students is a sure sign that employers trust us to train their staff.

With apprenticeship programmes across a wide range of sectors and representing hundreds of different job roles, from Chartered Management to Quantity Surveying, we can ensure your organisation is equipped to succeed, both now and in the future.

We work with SMEs, the public sector and multinationals in all sectors and our first cohort of apprentices started in September 2016 on the Surveying Degree Apprenticeship standards. This saw us become one of the first universities to offer degree apprenticeship standards, with 80 apprentices from 35 companies joining us.

Brendan Robinson, the lead sponsor of the Quantity Surveying apprenticeship at Transport for London, believes that only a few months down the line it is already clear that the benefits of the scheme are enormous:

“If you engage with the apprentice scheme properly, then there are many benefits – and what might surprise some people is that they extend beyond the apprentices themselves,” he says. “Of course, you benefit from apprentices being part of your organisation because they see things differently with new perspectives. More than that though, their enthusiasm and fresh thinking can invigorate the teams that they are part of – people who may have got used to their current routines or ways of doing things can be given new impetus through the introduction of apprentices to their team.

“If you take on apprentices though, you need to make sure that they are given the right kind of support and mentoring – and that’s another benefit of the LSBU scheme. Some people really enjoy nurturing young staff, and the scheme gives them the chance to take on those opportunities, which can often lead to their own confidence levels improving. Additionally, the need for the apprentices to be capable of progressing through the RICS qualification means that managers have to be accountable for their development. This can be beneficial for the apprentices’ managers, particularly if it is their first time managing somebody, as it encourages them to understand and take on the necessary responsibilities.”

It is this exactly this type of feedback that has seen us make apprenticeships a real priority at LSBU, and we know that so many of our employers that sponsor students are moving into this area in an effort to recoup their levy spend and recruit apprentices that can make a real difference to their operations.  We are focusing more and more of our resources and expertise on higher and degree apprenticeships – ahead of most other universities – because we are an employer-responsive university that aims to be a one-stop-shop for all things training related.

Our Apprenticeships team contains six experts who provide dedicated account management for employers, including help with undertaking training and skills analysis, guidance over the new Apprenticeship Levy and identifying and attracting strong motivated candidates.  Employers receive regular updates via email and can attend free employer events. We will help you maximise your levy spend, navigate the Apprenticeship Service, understand the changing world of apprenticeships and provide the support that you and your apprentice needs to prepare for the end point assessment. We also enable advanced entry for staff with relevant experience or additional qualifications.

On top of this, we are investing £12 million with funding from LSBU, Southwark council and HEFCE, to create a new ‘powerhouse’ for higher and degree apprenticeships here in the heart of south London.

Because Southwark Council wishes to substantially grow the number of apprentices in the borough, we have agreed to work together to create a gateway into apprenticeships. Our new Institute for Professional and Technical Education (IPTE) will provide this gateway and pave the way into part-time education for those in work, initially for qualification levels 3-7, but eventually spanning all levels. An example of this is how we are one of only 18 institutions that won funding from the HEFCE Degree Apprenticeship Development Funding to develop a series of apprenticeships that meet the needs of the Construction and Engineering industries.

The IPTE’s hub will be our historic Passmore building, due to re-open in 2018. With an initial focus on STEM (primarily construction and engineering) and health-related careers, the aim is to broaden to other professional areas where there are significant local career opportunities, such as hospitality and management. With nearly 200 students on higher and degree apprenticeships in construction and health subjects, we are planning on providing a range of  construction, engineering, health, housing and business management higher and degree apprenticeship standards in 2017/18 to meet the needs of our employer partners. And this list will grow over time. With these and other programmes we hope to grow our annual intake of higher and degree apprentices five-fold over the coming years.

So, as you can see, there is no doubt that we have made huge strides in developing relevant courses, infrastructure and employer relationships, but we do not rest on these successes and know there is still much to do. As the UK’s Entrepreneurial University of the Year, we are bringing all of our creativity and energy to providing the higher and degree apprenticeships that our learners, businesses and the UK need to succeed.