23rd September 2019

Council commitment to apprentices

A photograph of the signed Charter. Pictured are, left to right, Pat Flaherty, Chief Executive, Somerset County Council; Chris Squire, Director of Human Resources, Somerset County Council; Neil Guild, Chair of Somerset County Council UNISON; and Joanne Kaye UNISON South West Regional Secretary.

Somerset County Council has underlined its commitment to apprentices by signing the UNISON Apprenticeship Charter.

The Charter is a pledge to make sure apprentices at the Council get high-quality training; appropriate support, supervision and pay. Over the past three years the authority has invested in more than 300 apprenticeships and expects another 50 apprenticeships to start in the autumn.

The Charter was signed by Chief Executive, Pat Flaherty, and Director of Human Resources, Chris Squire; alongside UNISON South West Regional Secretary Joanne Kaye and Neil Guild, Chair of Somerset County Council UNISON.

Councillor Mandy Chilcott, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Resources, said: “Apprentices are an integral part of our workforce, helping us provide the services that improve the lives of people across the county.

“We are committed to making sure they have the right pay, support and training and have been delighted to work with UNISON on the Charter that puts this commitment down in writing.”

Joanne Kaye said: “By properly investing in the workforce of tomorrow, employers can nurture talent and help fill the skills gap – and give a boost to the local economy at the same time. 

“It’s very welcome that the council views apprenticeships as an investment in its future workforce, rather than a short-term source of cheap labour. We hope many other employers in the South West will soon follow their lead.”

Each apprenticeship represents either a new recruit earning and learning on the job, or an existing member of staff developing new skills to further their career.

Somerset County Council sponsors apprentices on more than 25 different courses across its services. It recently made use of new rule changes to offer ‘levy transfers’ that will cut the costs for businesses looking to take on an apprentice.

The levy transfer aims to add social value to apprenticeships, with priority given to young people who have been in care or have recognised educational, health and social care needs.