Cheltenham’s Economic Recovery Task Force looks to accelerate take-up of apprenticeships
By Sarah Wood
Cheltenham's Economic Recovery Task Force has today (14th July) launched a new survey targeting employers in the town with the aim of understanding perceptions and attitudes towards apprenticeships and how they can support business recovery in the town.
As the furlough scheme and support measures for businesses and employees begin to reduce as Covid restrictions are lifted, the valuable role played by apprenticeships has been recognised nationally with extended incentives for employers, and forms part of the Government's Plan for Jobs and economic recovery.
Whilst the take up of apprenticeships across Gloucestershire has been comparatively strong in recent times, as the economy continues to rebuild and businesses work through the challenges of scaling back up, the opportunities presented by apprenticeships are more timely and relevant than ever.
The survey has been developed through a new skills sub-group set up by the task force, the public-private leadership body formed to spearhead Cheltenham's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, to focus on skills and employment across the town. The group includes representatives from some of the town's biggest employers and academic institutions, including Gloucestershire College and the University of Gloucestershire.
Tracey Crews, director of planning at Cheltenham Borough Council and council lead on the Economic Recovery Task Force said: "We know there are often a lot of misconceptions around how apprenticeships work and the benefits they offer to employers. This survey is a designed to gain a better understanding of some of these perceived barriers - and to help to positively engage a wider cohort of businesses in Cheltenham in the opportunities that apprenticeships offer.
"As we navigate through recovery, it's more important than ever that we all invest in our workforces and in work-based learning to build capacity, resilience and competitiveness for the future."
Andy Bates, chief financial officer of Gloucestershire College and chair of the task force's skills sub-group said: "Contrary to popular belief, apprenticeships are not just for school leavers. Anyone and everyone can use apprenticeships to upskill and progress in their career. Apprenticeships will play a large role in bridging skills gaps and futureproofing our local economy for years to come.
"I would urge all employers to get involved with the survey and help us to help you. It's crucial that we overcome any hurdles or barriers to open up opportunities for businesses and individuals across our community."
The survey, which will remain open until the 13th September, can be accessed here. The results will be fed into Cheltenham's Economic Recovery Task Force and will be used to inform the ongoing rollout of the apprenticeship programme and business engagement going forward.
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