Stephen Burkes Left Sussex Skills and Dan Shelley Right Sussex Coast College

As one of the biggest providers of apprenticeships in East Sussex, Sussex Coast College Hastings will be celebrating the 10th National Apprenticeship Week next week by offering their services to help businesses get ready for the Apprenticeship reforms.

(4 minute read)

It’s been a decade since the launch of National Apprenticeship Week, and during that time, Sussex Coast College Hastings has been championing apprenticeships in Hastings, Rother and Bexhill. In the past, they have helped 1066 people start an apprenticeship, and last summer, they challenged the so-called negative image of apprenticeships.

This year, the college, through Sussex Skills Solutions, its partnership with Sussex Downs College, will be offering advice and guidance to businesses to explain the new reforms to apprenticeships and training.

From April 2017, the government will be introducing an apprenticeship levy and making greater funding available to individuals who work 16 hours per week, or more. Individuals will also be able to study an even wider selection of subjects ranging from a GCSE equivalent level right up to a Master’s degree equivalent level.

Stephen Burkes, the Director of Sussex Skills Solutions, said: “Apprenticeships have always had a very strong brand identity with the public but the funding rules and limitations around the level you could study up to created somewhat of a glass ceiling. Apprenticeships have always been a fantastic way to learn on the job, but fell short of the academic level to allow for real learning progression once you were in an established role. These restraints are now being removed and people of any age can access the funding regardless of their prior qualifications. Individuals can now study a new or advanced subject, related to their job role, up to Masters Level while earning a salary.”

Dan Shelley, Vice Principal Sussex Coast College Hastings said: “Businesses thrive when they are committed to developing their staff and a well trained workforce feels valued and works more effectively, and an apprenticeship is now a key way of achieving this.

As the number of higher level apprenticeship standards begins to build and the amount of long-term, personal debt from high tuition fees and maintenance loan repayments starts to be even more of a reality, then young people aged 19-24, and their parents or carers, will truly see an apprenticeship as an alternative where you can earn and learn. As employers deploy their apprentice levy payments on pre-graduate schemes, more and more young people should benefit from accessing apprenticeships, further increasing the volume and worth of such programmes.

We are not there yet, but if careers guidance can catch up and really show that apprenticeships have a dual role to provide entry-level employment and opportunities to up-skill and gain degree-level qualifications – while offering participants the chance to gain experience and get paid – then we might be at the dawn of another apprenticeship revolution.”

These new reforms will provide fantastic opportunities for businesses across Sussex, and Sussex Skills Solutions is encouraging businesses to get in touch for a free consultation to see how they can help utilise these opportunities.

Drawing on the expertise from staff at both colleges, who have decades of experience in apprenticeships, Sussex Skills Solutions can give you all the information, advice and guidance to help develop qualifications aligned to an employers’ needs. They can also implement new innovative ways to deliver the training to reduce the impact on employers and employees.

For more information and your free consultation, call 030 300 39777, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.sussexskillssolutions.co.uk

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