LCR launch regional apprenticeship portal

Finding and taking up one of a huge range of apprenticeships available across the Liverpool City Region is set to get much easier as the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has launched the UK’s first one-stop web portal for apprenticeships.

The portal – – brings together apprenticeship opportunities from employers.  This means that the Combined Authority can provide prospective apprentices in the Liverpool City Region with exactly the local information they need.

The web portal, which is the first of its kind, not only offers opportunities, but also features guides on how to apply, how to get there, and even what specific travel benefits may be available as well as guides for parents assisting their children who may be pursuing apprenticeship opportunities.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

“This is the first portal anywhere in the country bringing together such a wide range of information about apprenticeship opportunities and how to apply for them, and we have built it here, in the Liverpool City Region, specifically for our residents.

“In my election manifesto I promised to simplify the way people access apprenticeship opportunities through an easily accessible, online apprenticeship portal for the city region and I’m proud to have fulfilled that pledge.

“Visitors to the portal will be amazed at the type of apprenticeships we have in the city region, it’s not just the traditional trades, you can study at degree level and beyond in subjects ranging from Clinical Engineering to becoming a Paralegal. There is certainly much more on offer in terms of opportunities and qualifications than when I did a traditional bricklaying apprenticeship.”

In just a little more than a month (launched March 2019) there have been over 10,000 apprenticeship searches made on the site already! Top searches include engineering, IT, construction and digital marketing.

The new portal will also be a useful tool for employers in the Liverpool City Region to advertise their apprenticeship vacancies as it offers employers the opportunity to advertise vacancies on the site should they not have the infrastructure available to do so via the national solution.

The site also offers a fast growing library of City Region based apprentice case studies and experiences so visitors to the site can read about the diversity of the opportunities available as well as find out what life is really like as an apprentice.

Apprenticeship providers

Regional apprenticeship providers will find that the site provides a strong identity for City Region apprenticeships and an ideal backdrop for their own promotional activity. The website automatically lists the apprenticeship vacancies that they upload to the national Find An Apprenticeship portal. Providers are encouraged to help raise awareness of the Be More brand and website by engaging with the Be More team on social media, and identifying subjects for apprenticeship success stories.

To find out more information about apprenticeships across the Liverpool City Region go to

LCR Apprenticeship Hub Update – April 2019

GMLPF attended the LCR Apprenticeship Hub Board Meeting on 18 April.

Apprenticeship starts

Early indications point to a slight increase in apprenticeship starts in the region for first half of 2018/2019 compared with the same period last year. Whilst this is encouraging news, there are key factors that point to continuing challenges:

  • Growth is coming from 25+ age cohort; 16 to 18 apprenticeship starts have fallen in comparison to 17/18
  • Growth is seen in advanced and higher level programmes; starts at intermediate level continue to fall

LCR Hub  report

The Hub reported on the success of their apprenticeship awareness-raising programme across the region. Over 18 months, the highly productive Hub team have completed a herculean itinerary of communications and events which included planning and executing no less than 33 skills shows across the region, attended by 7000 individuals. They also delivered 14 events to launch the Skills For Growth Action Plans, and carried out 1131 targeted meetings to inform employers, schools, referral agencies, parents and others about apprenticeships.

Apprenticeship Graduation  

The report on the LCR Hub Apprenticeship Graduation held on 7 March was shared at the meeting. It provides an overview of the features and successes of the event held at St Georges Hall and opened by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram. Key achievements and points to note include:

  • Almost 300 attendees across 2 events
  • 103 apprentices graduated at the event
  • These apprentices were supported by 24 learning providers
  • Apprentices studied at a range of levels (L2 to L5)
  • Graduates were of all ages with the majority being between the ages of 17 and 25 (49%)


5 Key Ways GMLPF Supports Its Members

Greater Merseyside Learning Providers Federation (GMLPF) supports training providers who deliver apprenticeships, traineeships, study programmes, adult training and other skills programmes. The support we provide is varied and driven by demands of members and also by funding or strategy changes in the local and national skills landscape. Here are five of the many support services we provide our members:

  1. Lobbying

Anyone who has spent time working in the Government funded skills sector will be familiar with the rapid pace of change. GMLPF works to mitigate potential negative impact of changes by consulting with its members, collating their views and voicing their opinions and concerns with appropriate authorities so they can be considered and addressed. Recent consultations with members have focussed on Liverpool Reducing NEET Strategy, and Ofsted’s new inspection framework.

  1. Ofsted

Where appropriate, GMLPF is happy to provide input or meet with inspectors as part of members’ Ofsted inspections. This has proved useful in the past in particular to demonstrate evidence of participation in CPD and in raising quality of training. This service is usually taken by members who are undergoing a full inspection as opposed to a monitoring visit as inspectors’ time is limited.

  1. CPD

A primary focus for GMLPF is to provide CPD opportunities to its members that are relevant to their needs. These opportunities come in the form of free or subsidised workshops, training sessions or webinars. Recent topics have included Planning and Delivering 20% Off the Job Training; Mental Health Awareness & First Aid (resulting in Level 2 Award); Documentation & Processes for Submission of AEB Tenders; ROATP; Successful Ofsted Monitoring Visits; Reform of Functional Skills

  1. Brokering member partnerships

GMLPF is all about creating opportunities for its members to network and learn from each other. Occasionally, we help bring together members for a more defined working relationship. For example, we put one member who offers level 2 and 3 apprenticeships in touch with a provider offering relevant higher level management apprenticeships. Together they are approaching employers to offer a full progression route for apprenticeships in their industry sector with great success.

  1. Opportunities

GMLPF always has its radar on for opportunities for its members including commercial opportunities which are communicated via the weekly GMLPF Member newsletter. Recently, we invited an organisation contracted to deliver training services for the Ministry of Justice to speak to members about potential collaboration. They are looking for delivery partners and several GMLPF members are now considering this as an opportunity for growth.


Non levy allocations – Important!

GMLPF is aware that members have this week received correspondence from ESFA, which  identifies the value attached to their extended non levy allocations over the period April 19-March 2020.

It seems that these allocations may be subject to further change. However, GMLPF understands that the ESFA has indicated that the primary focus of the extension contracts should be upon carry in funding and supporting existing learners rather than supporting new starts.

This may have a significant impact upon members and the wider, local apprenticeship market. GMLPF is keen to understand what the impact of the new allocations are on your organisation so we can raise this issue with the Combined Authority locally and also with AELP. With this in mind, could GMLPF members with apprenticeship contracts who have been given extensions e-mail indicating:

  • If the value of the extension contract is broadly more, the same or less than the previous year
  • Whether, after factoring in carry in funding, there will be an impact on apprenticeship starts over the coming year ie up, down or broadly the same. It would be helpful to have some scale of change if the extension contract is resulting in significant change ie 25% increase, 50% decrease
  • What wider impact there might be on your organisation as a result of the extension contract

NAO Apprenticeships Report Highlights Areas for Improvement

The Department for Education has some way to go before it can demonstrate that the apprenticeships programme is achieving value for money, with numbers of apprenticeships below pre-reform levels, says the National Audit Office.

In its report published earlier this month, the NAO states that since introducing its reforms the Department has improved how it assesses the benefits of the programme. However, it has not set out clearly how it measures whether the programme is boosting economic productivity – the ultimate aim of the programme. It therefore has some way to go before it can demonstrate that resources are being used to best effect.

Many of the key headlines from the report echo opinions that GMLPF members have expressed over the last couple of years, including:

  • The average cost of training an apprentice on a standard is around double what was expected by ESFA. This is because employers are opting for greater numbers of higher value standards than was anticipated. This has resulted in fewer starts and increased pressure on the apprenticeship budget. It is highly likely that, without any significant growth in volumes spending on Apprenticeships could rise to £bn per year once frameworks are withdrawn
  • The 3m starts target is unlikely to be met. To meet this target the number of apprenticeship starts would need to double from the current baseline which is highly unlikely in the current market
  • The Government’s target for widening participation in apprenticeships lacks ambition ie raising participation for those who are SEND. We know participation is low for SEND in Liverpool City Region.
  • There has been a steep rise in the proportion of apprenticeships started under the new standards which employers generally consider as an improvement on frameworks
  • The introduction of standards and the levy has seen a significant change in the profile and make-up of the apprenticeship programme. There has been a pronounced shift away from lower level apprenticeships  to high cost, higher level apprenticeships. There is a sense that larger, corporate entities may be replacing their professional development or in-house training programmes with apprenticeship programmes.
  • The report highlights issues with quality including the fact that the ESFA has limited assurance that apprentices are spending 20% or more of their time in off the job training. Furthermore, approximately 25% of training providers in 2016/17 met the criteria for ESFA intervention because their achievement rates fell below national minimum standards.
  • The NAO has concerns about the long term sustainability of the programme

Read full report

Read summary report


Commercial opportunity: Delivering Ministry of Justice Learning Programmes

GMLPF recently met with 3SC, an organisation who manages extensive government funded learning contracts.  It currently has learning contracts to support delivery of learning within prisons and ex-offenders who are in the process of being rehabilitated. It is currently looking for delivery partners to help deliver and expand its range of learning programmes

In 2017-18 alone it supported supply chain activity in excess of £6million. We have built supply chains and worked with more than 550 different delivery organisations across 16 programmes in the welfare to work/employment, young people, criminal justice, and disabilities’ arenas.

3SC is currently looking to expand our partnership base and have a number of pathways for organisations to start the process of collaboration with us. Current pathways are:

Prison Education Framework:

Under the prison education framework contracts 3SC are able to bid for a range of services within the below categories:

PEDPS.13 – Life skills

PEDPS.14 -Services to support individuals with Additional Learning Needs

PEDPS.16 – Resettlement Service

PEDPS.17 – Preparation for work, Information Advice and Guidance service

We would need specific partnerships for the delivery of these services and believe that the needs of people using these services – especially those who are hardest to reach – are best met by experienced, local, passionate and mission-driven organisations. 3SC sees potential opportunities for GMLPF members here.

Community Based Delivery:

3SC works in partnership with Interserve, Purple Futures and the Community Rehabilitation Companies of Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Humberside, Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire and Hampshire & Isle of Wight. This partnership presents opportunities for delivery of community based learning provision targeted at small groups to larger cohorts of service users who need additional support when released from custody and rehabilitating back in to, or moving to, our local areas.

The community based services can range from entry to employment, to mentoring and everything in-between, this is very much dependent on the national probation services requirements at local branch level, recent procurements include but are not limited to:

Accommodation Services – emergency and sustained

Mentoring – 1-1 support services

Life Skills Coaching

If GMLPF members would like to know more about these potential opportunities, 3SC will be hosting an event at the GMLPF offices in Liverpool on the 11th of March at 1pm. There will be limited spaces so just 1 person per organisation please. 3SC will provide an overview of the programmes it delivers, an introduction to 3SC as an organisation, an introduction to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and Prison Education Framework provision and will outline potential partnership opportunities. 3SC team members will be there to answer any questions

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Webinar: Planning and Delivering the 20% Off The Job Training in Apprenticeships 28.02.19

5 reasons to book on!

  1. Expert tips on involving employers in planning the 20%

    The webinar is delivered by Beej Kaczmarczyk, director of apprenticeships provider The Learning Curve who have recently been inspected by Ofsted. Inspectors were impressed with how they involve employers in planning and designing the 20% off-the-job element. Beej has some top tips to share about how to do this on the webinar.

  2. Clarification of what is and what isn’t allowed as part of the 20%

    There is still much confusion about what is allowed as part of the 20% off-the-job-training element of apprenticeships. Did you know that webinars that are relevant to the apprentice’s job role count? As do attending industry conferences? And time spent preparing for apprenticeship assignment work? As long as these take place during working hours. Bring your examples of activities that you are unsure about to the webinar and find out whether they are allowed.

  3. Cut through confusion and mis-information

    There is still confusion around how the 20% off the job training element is calculated and what the penalties are for providers who don’t meet the evidence requirements. Our webinar will clarify all this. Forewarned is forearmed – and Ofsted are clamping down so don’t miss this chance to have your questions answered by an expert.

  4. Peer best practice

    The webinar will give you a chance to share experiences and hear points of view from other learning providers in the region who have already registered to attend. GMLPF has come across some really innovative approaches to delivering the 20% amongst its members and sometimes the most effective way to success is through learning from peers.

  5. Clock up a free ticket

    If you’ve already attended 3 of our webinars, you can attend this one for FREE! Of if you haven’t, then booking onto this webinar will get you one step closer to a free ticket for one of our forthcoming webinars. Contact to find out how many you’ve attended and whether you’re entitled to a free ticket.

Book Now!


gmlpf members on level 2 mental health training

GMLPF shines spotlight on apprentice mental health in Liverpool City Region

It’s clear that the mental health of young people in the UK is causing increasing concern.  Almost 1 in 4 children and young people show evidence of ill health whilst 1 in 5 young adults have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Consequently we are seeing more schools prioritising student wellbeing. Indeed this is already an area of focus for Ofsted.


Mental health impacts on training delivery

However, there is little coordinated support from Government to support young people who leave school at 16 to enter apprenticeships and other work-based learning programmes. And arguably the stress these individuals face is higher as they get to grips with the transition from school to the workplce. Evidence suggests many learning providers feel swamped by the increasing incidences of mental ill health in their students. GMLPF members have told us this is having a direct impact on the delivery of their programmes


Mental Health First Aid

Research among GMLPF members reveals that at any time up to 30% of their apprentices and learners are suffering with their mental health. This can eat up an average of 40 staff hours each month. On average each provider faces more than eighty mental health incidents requiring intervention each year.

Our research showed that many learning providers wanted some sort of formal training in mental health awareness. So as a first step GMLPF linked with AT Skills and Active IQ to launch a Mental Health Awareness and First Aid training course which ran in January and February. 


Level 2 Award

The AT Skills delivered course runs over 2 days and awards a Level 2 qualification to successful participants. Asset Training, North West Training Council, Lite Ltd, St Helens Chamber and Halton Council all sent staff on the course.  Director of AT Skills Alan Reddin outlines what the objectives of the programme are:

“We have specifically designed the course to help training providers. They learn to boost awareness and understanding of mental health.  We equip staff to identify signs and symptoms, risk factors and treatments for the most common mental health problems.  Ending discrimination can only happen through knowledge.”

The delegates were also well drilled in mental health first aid and how to signpost individuals in need to sources of professional support. Harriet adds:

“Through discussion and group activities, we tailor the course for providers of apprenticeships and other training. They leave with a good grasp of the particular mental health issues experienced by apprentices and adult learners. We also spent time considering the mental health challenges encountered by learner-facing staff.”


Pinpointing Issues

During two days at GMLPF offices in Liverpool, the participants pinpointed real life scenarios.  A range of hot topics were debated. The staff particularly wanted to know about striking the right balance between making adjustments for learners’ mental health and encouraging them to challenge them by building resilience.

Pavlina Kiakides of GMLPF who completed the course explains some of the issues tackled during the two days’ training:

“There were lots of opportunities to explore different providers’ practices regarding the development of resilience in learners.  So for example, when a learner self declares a phobia of public transport what strategy should be adopted? Should the provider accept they can’t travel and find them a placement/apprenticeship close to home? Or focus on helping the student overcome the phobia? We also realised that the roles of different parties involved in delivery of training need clarifying. The responsibilities of employer and provider in supporting mental good health in apprentices must be agreed at the start to stop people falling through the net.”


Raising Awareness Across The Region

An emerging theme was that provider staff often need support; it is not just an issue for students.  

The course was a culmination of a project by GMLPF that set out to raise awareness of the issues. The groundwork for getting to this point was the extensive research conducted among our members. The introduction of the course is timely as mental health of apprentices and other young people has moved up the agenda of skills challenges facing the Liverpool City Region.

Research among members reveals students are affected by issues such as anxiety, stress and lack of self- belief. And 83% GMLPF members responded that mental health issues are on the increase.

And since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, it seems that employers may be inadvertently adding to apprentices’ stress levels. Because employers hold the funding themselves, they are taking a keener interest in seeing good levels of achievement. Further pressures come from all kinds of sources; students cite social media and lack of support at home.


The Future

Only ten places are available on each course. We will be announcing future dates soon and in the meantime the following is just some of the positive feedback we have had so far.

“The course covered a wide & varied subject matters discussed which will be useful for personal and professional application”

 “Great awareness of mental health first aid, signs and symptoms and discussions around apprenticeships”

 “The whole programme was excellent as it provided a robust range of information, skills and knowledge which I am able to put into practice and share with colleagues and learners”.

 “The programme was perfect, professional, highly informative and educational. An excellent programme which enabled me develop personally and professionally”.

Liverpool Provider Network – Extraordinary Meeting 15th February

Liverpool City Council have recently published their draft Inspiring: Engaging: Progressing NEET Reduction strategy. The deadline for comments on the draft strategy is Wednesday 20th February.

To facilitate a sector wide consultation response, an extraordinary meeting of the Liverpool Provider Network will take place on Friday 15th February at 9.30am at GMLPF offices.

The meeting will provide an opportunity to go through the draft strategy, the consultation framework and to support the drafting of a local provider response.


A draft strategy to get more young people into learning and work

Last year in Liverpool over 1,000 young people aged 16-18 were not in education, employment or training (NEET). This is one of the highest rates in the country and this position hasn’t changed in a number of years.

To address this over the last few months the Council has invited a number of stakeholders together to help shape a strategy that will support an increase in young people moving into learning and work.

This work has resulted in a draft strategy document – Inspiring: Engaging: Progressing – it sets out a combined determination to work together across the Council and with partners across the City to improve the learning, skills and employment outcomes for young people in Liverpool.

To help further refine the document Liverpool City Council is inviting comments on this document from a wider range of organisations across the City who work with young people.

GMLPF CEO provides Skills Commission with overview of key reasons for fall in apprenticeships

GMLPF CEO Ian Lomas was invited to present to the LCR Skills Commission last week with a focus on the reasons for such a dramatic fall in apprenticeship starts in 2017/18 in comparison to previous years. Following the introduction of apprenticeship reforms there has been a 35% drop in apprenticeship starts in the Liverpool City Region. Furthermore, whereas previously, the LCR had a higher proportion of individuals starting an apprenticeship programme than elsewhere in the country this is no longer the case. Therefore we can conclude that Apprenticeship reforms have had a much greater impact here than elsewhere.


Reasons for fall in apprenticeship starts

The presentation outlined to members of the Skills Commission the complex reasons why apprenticeship starts have fallen. It is the members’ task to hold the LCR Combined Authority to account and to monitor their work in implementing the Apprenticeship Growth Plan. The presentation pointed to the introduction of employer co-investment and 20% Off The Job training requirements as two key reasons for the fall in starts.  Additional issues include shift in demand from SMEs to Levy Payers, changing employer dynamics, a collapse in Level 2 Starts, difficulty in filling vacancies, Ofsted inspections, delays in moving towards the Digital Account, over-engineered procurement and ESFA non-levy allocations both undermining the ability of providers to respond to significant, new demand and tying up too much resource in some providers who are still not delivering.


More regular engagement

The presentation was well received and members of the Skills Commission agreed it provided a rounded overview of the apprenticeship programme and the challenges facing providers. GMLPF will follow the presentation up and suggest more regular engagement with providers locally to ensure that the Skills Commission get access to regular intelligence.