West Yorkshire Apprenticeship Awards: How apprenticeships are helping to tackle social inequality in Leeds

The West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges recognises that apprenticeships have the power to transform lives and boost the workforce.

By Abbey Maclure
Thursday, 14th April 2022, 4:45 am

Operating on behalf of the future education colleges in West Yorkshire, it bridges the gap between education providers and businesses, with a focus on workforce skills and training.

The Consortium has backed the West Yorkshire Apprenticeship Awards, a search for the county's star apprentices and best apprenticeship providers.

The inaugural awards, hosted by the Yorkshire Evening Post in conjunction with the Wakefield Express and Halifax Courier, will shout about the value of apprenticeship schemes.

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Leeds City College

You can enter the Awards and find out more here.

One of the Consortium's key projects is Collaborative Apprenticeships, funded by the European Social Fund, which works to enhance the apprenticeship experience and equip apprentices with the right skills to help businesses grow.

The Consortium's project manager Dr Joanne Harvatt told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "We work to make sure apprentices have the skills they need for the workforce, as well as supporting people stepping into apprenticeships - helping them develop the skills to start.

"It is vital for businesses to understand how to recruit and support apprentices.

Joanne Harvatt, project manager at West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges

"Collaborative Apprenticeships helps businesses navigate the apprenticeship landscape, providing the skills for business to mentor and lead their apprentices, so they have the best outcome within their chosen career."

Leeds City College offers a pre-apprenticeship in health and care as part of the project.

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The course is designed to narrow inequalities in Leeds, equipping people from disadvantaged backgrounds with the skills needed to start an apprenticeship.

Estelle Brewster, Leeds City College's deputy head of health and care apprenticeships

Participants get practical training using a variety of equipment, as well as learning maths and English through supported self-directed study and lessons.

Estelle Brewster, the college's deputy head of health and care apprenticeships, said: "We try to engage people from disadvantaged areas of Leeds into employment apprenticeships in health and care.

“Some of the barriers we find are that people have been out of work for a while, or they have no experience of what to expect in a care or health setting.

"For some of them, maths and English is a barrier for them to progress onto an apprenticeship.

“The programme was put together to try and break down those obstacles."

Around 80 per cent of people who take the course go on to do an apprenticeship, including at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and care organisations.

Joanne said it is a phenomenal example of how the support through Collaborative Apprenticeships can help to tackle inequality and shows why the Consortium's role is so important.

"We act as a gateway for businesses to access information and support," she added.

"The Consortium provides the front door through our Skills Service, we understand what they need and we can then support the individual or business with what course suits their skills requirements."