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College announced as ‘Expert Apprenticeship Provider’ in New Department for Education Scheme

Staffordshire’s leading provider of apprenticeships, Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group (NSCG), has been named as one of just 13 training organisations chosen by the Department for Education (DfE) to become an ‘expert apprenticeship provider’ in a recently announced 12-month pilot scheme.

Plans to award a ‘mark of excellence’ to a select number of providers were announced in September, and strict entry criteria meant that only sector leading providers could apply.  To be successful, applicants needed to:

  • Be graded ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted
  • Have strong apprenticeship achievement rates well above the national average
  • Be in good financial health
  • Have a 4-star ‘excellent’ employer feedback rating
  • Have delivered apprenticeships for a minimum of 5 years
  • Have at least 50 annual apprenticeship starts coming from non-levy paying employers (SMEs)

NSCG will become one of just 5 further education colleges in England involved in the pilot, responsible for acting in an ambassadorial role in an effort to reduce bureaucracy and improve the experience for SMEs interested in recruiting apprentices.  Additionally, over the next 12 months NSCG will be given the opportunity work directly with senior officials from the DfE to influence and shape apprenticeship policy, become champions for innovation and challenge a broad range of topical areas including; funding policy, quality and audit.

Commenting on the announcement, Carl Riding, Director of Employer Partnerships and Estates for NSCG, said: “We were delighted to learn that NSCG has been selected to become a champion for improvements to the current apprenticeship system for non-levy employers.  We hope that we’ll be able to share our expertise and make a meaningful contribution throughout the pilot phase and that our input will help to shape future practice in a way that that will positively benefit both providers and SMEs.

“NSCG experienced excellent growth in apprenticeship starts in 2022/3 as well as sector leading achievement rates.  We hope the outcomes of the pilot will lead to even more small and medium sized employers engaging in the apprenticeship scheme and taking on apprentices to help future proof their business.  We’re really looking forward to getting started.”

The scheme began with a launch meeting on Thursday 8 November 2023 and will now run for a 12 month period.  During this time NSCG officials will be involved in a series of meetings, workshops, round-table events, practical activities and evaluation sessions to test the impact of expert status.

To find out more about NSCG Apprenticeships, visit: www.nscg.ac.uk/apprenticeships  or head to NSCG Stafford College’s next open event on Thursday 30 November from 5:30-8pm.

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