Who are North Somerset Council?
North Somerset Council is a unitary authority covering 144 square miles across 4 main towns; Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon, Nailsea and Portishead. We employ around 1,400 employees, running front-line services across many different professions.
What challenges do you face in the current climate?
Local Government has seen annual budget reductions since austerity began in 2010, this has meant that many authorities have had to reduce staff numbers significantly, looking at ways to deliver crucial services sustainably.
Employers nationally are reporting a skills shortage across almost every sector, and the public sector is no different. North Somerset as a region has a strong employer base and an equally strong talent pool to match, however we have seen significant reductions in applicants across almost all jobs advertised.
We also recognise that with an ageing workforce profile, there is a need to look at approach to recruitment and how we target the untapped pool of upcoming talent.
How have you decided to combat these challenges?
We decided to work closely with Weston College, in order to make the most of our Apprenticeship Levy. This has seen an increase in uptake on both intermediary and higher-level apprenticeships across departments, providing an opportunity for staff members to access non-statutory training provision.
We have a long-standing partnership with the college on the provision of a variety of apprenticeships including Business Administration, Customer Services and Accountancy. Weston College are great to work with, because they have a good understanding of our business and the way we work, which has helped us work through how best to use our Apprenticeship Levy. This has resulted in the delivery of the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Apprenticeship standards at levels 3 and 5. We also designed, and implanted a traineeship programme specific to our Care Leavers cohort.
Why did you decide to offer traineeships?
The traineeship programme enabled department managers and supply chain partners, to take a try before you buy approach on talented individuals often overlooked for apprenticeships.
The traineeship was designed as a ten-week programme. The first two weeks are focussed on public sector specific employability – which includes council led interviews, then a seven-week placement and a final week of employment readiness.
Have there been any particular success stories with Weston College learners to date?
Our first traineeship cohort started in April 2019, and we successfully hired two of the trainees onto an apprenticeship with the council. Seeing their progression is testament to their commitment and the work of my colleagues within the council. They weren’t the only successful candidates, as we saw others gain apprenticeships with local employers, and one even secured a full time role. This has helped us with our goal of offering opportunities to untapped local talent.
What are the company plans for future growth?
We hope to continue working closely with Weston College in the future, developing the range of apprenticeship standards we use to develop the skills of new and existing staff.