Staff training: Weighing up the costs

Investing in training is going to be essential for tackling the recruitment crisis and will support overall business growth. NMT speaks to Gareth Reichers, director of sales at The Childcare Company

First, can you give some detail into the vision and ethos of The Childcare Company?

Our vision is to change lives; the lives of our staff, the learners that we support and the employer partners that we work with. We aspire to bring learning to life by creating value-added, market leading curriculum, which supports our employer partners and learners in adding value to their organisations, while helping individuals realise their academic, career and personal aspirations.

The Childcare Company has been delivering apprenticeships and CPD courses since 2008. Throughout that time our provision has evolved to include all intermediate and advanced early years and children and young people apprenticeships, a full suite of leadership apprenticeships, including the Level 7 senior leader, a home-based childcare course for those looking to become qualified childminders and our most recent addition to the portfolio, CPD and mandatory short courses, including paediatric first aid, basic life support and automated external defibrillation.

Can you explain what a typical training route would be for a practitioner looking to advance to management?

For anyone in taking initial footsteps into management, such as a supervisory role, the Level 3 team leader or supervisor apprenticeship is a great place to start. Covering learning topics such as leading people, self-awareness and decision-making, it provides an introduction and solid foundation to a variety of management topics that individuals new to management, would have had little to no exposure of.

For employees embarking on their first fully fledged management role, there are several options available. If they are looking to enhance some core management skills but be on a learning programme that is still very much weighted towards early years practice, then the Level 5 early years lead practitioner fits well. For individuals who want to accelerate their leadership and management development by learning about universal management principles, models, and theories, then the Level 5 operations or departmental or manager is ideal.

Lastly, for senior managers, directors, owners, or anyone in a c-suite role looking to take their leadership skills to the next level, then our Level 7 senior manager with built-in leadership residentials and Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) modules, is the ideal accompaniment to years of lived experience.

What are the key problems The Childcare Company is solving for the sector?

The early years sector is not alone in the day-to-day challenges it faces. Recruitment, retention, and the rise in operating costs are quandaries faced by many of the employers we engage with across childcare, healthcare and business skills landscapes. There is no coincidence that some of those bucking these trends have an established apprenticeship policy and use this as a vehicle to alleviate some of the pinch points.

It is estimated yearly gain for employers is between £2,500 and £18,000 per apprentice during their training period. Done well, the use of apprenticeships can help a business mitigate a significant amount of their running costs.

By appointing apprentices between the ages of 16 and 18, the government won’t only fully fund the cost of the training, it will also pay you, the employer, £1,000 if that individual successfully completes the apprenticeship training.

Furthermore, for any new or substantive staff under the age of 25 who are participating in an apprenticeship, you won’t need to pay Class 1 National Insurance contribution for those employees. There are also additional monetary incentives for employers who have apprentices aged between 19 and 24 years old with either an Education, Health, and Care (EHC) plan provided by their local authority or who has been in the care of their local authority.

As an addition benefit for smaller business with under 50 employees, the government will fund the apprenticeship training costs, up to the maximum value of the funding band for the apprenticeship (£6,000 in the case of an early years educator apprenticeship).

For business with more than 50 employees but a combined wage bill of less than £3 million annually, the government will fund 95% of the training cost, however you could fully fund the training by utilising the levy transfer scheme. Lastly, if you are a business with a total combined wage bill more than £3 million annually, you will be paying the Apprenticeship Levy and this money is ring-fenced to cover your apprenticeship training costs.

Aside from the financial gains associated with apprenticeships, a recent survey carried out by 1,000 HR professionals cited additional benefits including: contributing to succession planning, providing existing staff with the opportunity to mentor and share knowledge, allowing employers to develop future talent, bringing new people into an industry, being the future of a profession, providing ‘home grown’ talent and training which addresses specific business needs, offering fresh perspectives and bringing enthusiasm.

How can apprenticeships help bridge the recruitment gap?

As part of our added-value service, we consult with both Apprenticeship Levy and non-Levy business, to advise them on the cost-efficiencies associated with apprenticeships.

Despite the frequent use of apprenticeships in the early years sector, not all employers are aware of the savings and financial incentives available to them, so we make it our priority to educate them on this to ensure they are maximising their returns.

For anyone looking to employ an apprentice on a permanent or fixed-term basis, we will provide industry insights and advise on how to maximise your chances of attracting the best talent, be it job
descriptions, culture, benefits or salary.

From there we can provide a full end-to- end service that includes advertising of the role, eligibility and suitability screening, as well as shortlisting. Alternatively, you can choose which of the aforementioned processes you would like us to be involved in.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

We currently deliver training to more than 5,000 learners a year and work with over 800 employer partners to understand their training needs and develop and deliver market-leading curriculum to meet those needs.

Our goals are to continue to impact more lives and support more employer partners and learners to achieve their goals.

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