Apprenticeships provide a route to funded training

May 2017 saw the introduction of a new apprenticeship funding scheme. In a nutshell, employers with a pay bill of over £3m each year, must now pay an apprenticeship levy. These funds can be used on apprenticeships and to pay training providers. But the real winner is smaller, non-levy paying employers who can access government support for help with apprenticeship costs; up to 90% in some instances.

“The apprenticeship levy offers a cost-effective solution to upskilling current members of staff or bringing new skills into the company,” explains Lisa Hutchings, Skills Connector. “Many businesses are already using it to their advantage and I predict a boom in take-up in 2018 as more businesses catch on.”

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GDPR gets real

It has been a 2017 buzzword and it’s not going anywhere in 2018, in fact GDPR chatter is about to get even louder. All eyes are on 25 May 2018 when the Data Protection Act gets replaced by tougher, new data regulations and if you handle or process personal data in ANY way within your business it affects you. Now is the time to clue-up, get prepped and face GDPR head on.

“Worryingly many businesses don’t consider GDPR to be something that they have to think about. It is not just about big businesses with huge CRM’s; small businesses are more than likely to have to make changes to their practices too,” warns Julia Le Gallo, Skills Connector. “But it needn’t be scary, lots of help is at hand and the Skills Hub can point businesses in the right direction.”

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Digital skills gain exponential importance

There are some skills that few businesses can do without – first aid, health and safety, customer service etc – and it is almost certain that digital will spend 2018 getting even more comfy on the must-have skills checklist.

“Basic digital skills are increasingly vital to sustain, yet a surprising amount of retail businesses still lack an online presence. 2018 has the potential to be a make or break year for such businesses and gaining basic digital skills will give them a chance to stay part of the game,” advises Josh Hoole, project manager.

People planning fuels future confidence

As the saying goes, by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. This applies across the board when it comes to business but perhaps most significantly in terms of people planning.

“With an uncertain future, now is the time to plan and invest in the people and the skills your business will need in the future,” suggests Ian Watkiss, skills connector. “To take your business forward, it is essential your team has the skills required.”

Higher and degree apprenticeships combine work with study

Apprenticeships have shaken off their ‘only manual jobs’, ‘only low-level jobs’ image and are making their mark in the world of higher education and degree level training. They offer the opportunity to train whilst earning a salary and gaining on-the-job experience, providing a seductive alternative to potentially hefty tuition fees and student debts.

Stu Anderson, operations director, enthuses: “Businesses offering higher and degree apprenticeships can now compete with universities and attract talent previously destined for traditional education as a route to fulfilling career aspirations. We look forward to seeing the number of vacancies of this type growing over the next year.”

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Is your business ready for these trends? Could you be doing more to harness their potential? The Skills Hub can help and talk you through all the options. Sign up for a skills review or get in touch for an informal chat. It’s completely free, impartial and independent.

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The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub and Skills Hub are part funded by the European Structural & Investment Fund and is match funded by Cornwall Council, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.