Published: October 1, 2020 | Updated: October 1, 2020

“We can really help businesses unleash their potential” says top provider of apprenticeships

Matt Butcher, Commercial Director, Bournemouth & Poole College. Picture: Dorset Biz News.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Commercial Director Matt Butcher talks with pride about the achievements of Bournemouth & Poole College.

And with good reason.

It’s the biggest apprenticeship provider in Dorset with 2,200 apprentices among its 11,000-strong student population.

Just four months ago – and as reported on Dorset Biz News – it was ranked 11th out of 162 colleges in the Department for Education’s latest national achievement rate tables for its apprenticeships.

In two categories – digital marketing and electrical – it took the number one position.

That was out of all the further education providers in the UK.

The College is also bucking the national trend with the number of apprenticeships increasing in recent years from around 1,500 to the current level.

Matt joined as Head of the BASE team (Business, Apprenticeships, Skills and Employability) in 2013.

He was promoted to his present role two years ago.

“We’ve always been a major player but we’re now the biggest apprenticeship provider in Dorset.

“But whether it’s apprenticeships, or a host of other services, we want to get the message out to the local business community that we’re here and we can help you,” Matt said.

Currently the College offers 28 separate apprenticeships.

They range from accountancy, beauty and brickwork through to engineering, hospitality and marine.

Around 1,000 businesses have apprentices at the College, typically spending one day a week on campus and four days with the company.

Apprenticeship lengths can range from a minimum of one year and a day to six years for a degree apprenticeship in engineering.

Most are no longer than four years.

The College can handle everything for businesses looking to take on an apprentice.

Its free apprentice support scheme can help employers every step of the way including:

  • Initial consultation.
  • Developing a tailored apprenticeship.
  • Pre-screening and managing recruitment applications.
  • Support through funding applications, paperwork and administration.
  • Ongoing backup including advice on any changes to legislation.

Matt said: “We have an eight-strong team with each looking after specific apprenticeship categories so we can provide a really tailored service to businesses.”

And now there’s more incentive than ever to go down the apprenticeship route.

As part of the government’s plan to support jobs, employers taking on new apprentices can claim up to £3,000 until January 2021.

The maximum amount – £3,000 – is payable for businesses employing a new 16 to 18-year-old apprentice or someone aged under 25 with an education, health and care plan.

£2,000 is payable for employing a new 19 to 24-year-old apprentice and £1,500 is payable for employing a new apprentice over the age of 25.

Apprenticeship training costs may be fully or partly government funded.

If a business does not pay the Apprenticeship Levy, then it may only need to contribute five per cent or nothing at all.

As for the Apprenticeship Levy – payable by employers with an annual paybill of more than £3m which includes the College – Matt pointed out it could be used to retrain existing staff.

“It may be a good opportunity for businesses in the current pandemic to look at some of their roles and choose to retrain for other positions,” he said.

Apart from apprenticeships, other services offered to local businesses by the College include:

  • Work experience. “It’s an opportunity for employers to see the next generation, including extended work placements,” said Matt.
  • A ready supply of future employees after completing their final courses. The College has about 3,000 full-time students and, said Matt: “We act as a good source of qualified young people to the local jobs market.”
  • A large range of qualifications to help upskill existing staff, ranging from CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development) to CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) and skills such as welding and computer-aided design (CAD).

Matt said: “We can really help businesses unleash their potential.

“Our job is to future-proof the local economy.

“It’s a role we’re proud to perform as we help businesses both now and into the future.

“Get in touch and see how we can help or point you in the right direction.”