Surrey Council announces apprenticeship drive

Surrey County Council has announced a new drive for apprenticeships in the region, with the aim being to create 170 new opportunities.

The Council has said that it will use its purchasing power in order to create the posts across the county, and that it is asking firms to pledge to fill the places as part of their bids for council work contracts.

The council stated that it negotiates tens of millions of pounds worth of contracts each year, and that it would encourage key contracts to look to their chain of suppliers in order to identify apprenticeship opportunities.

Surrey’s procurement team has set out the goal in order to help support the council’s aim of stimulating economic growth in the region. Their efforts have already gained plaudits following the news that the number of young people in the county not in education, employment or training (the so-called NEETs) hit a national low earlier this year. Figures from the Department for Education (DfE) showed that only 1.8 per cent of people aged between 16 and 19 in the county were not studying or working. The figure meant that the county had the joint-lowest total of NEETs in the country alongside Harrow and Rutland. The national NEETs average currently stands at 5.3 per cent.
During the past two years the county council has prioritised youth employment through a number of measures, including incentivising businesses to hire 500 apprentices within just ten months.

The council also created a chain of Centres throughout the county dedicated to equipping young people with basic skills, and also to provide extra support within youth centres to those people looking likely to become NEETs in the future. The latest move to create more apprenticeships follows a recent pledge by the council to create 500 roles by April, having already successfully filled the 540 spots. Through striking better, more shrewd deals, the council has made savings of almost £110 million in the last four years.

Denise Le Gal, the Surrey County Council cabinet member for business services, said:

“This initiative means we can continue providing taxpayers with the best possible deal now, while also helping to train the next generation of our workforce.

“Apprenticeships give young people the leg up in their careers that they need at a difficult time, and provide businesses with the skilled staff they require to thrive and help the economy grow.”