South Yorkshire Apprenticeships: Book a consultation for your business now to find out more

Trying to understand how apprenticeships work, and how it might benefit your business can be a minefield – but help is at hand.

Keith Richardson is the apprenticeship hub manager for the brand new South Yorkshire Apprenticeship Hub which officially launched in December last year, and provides support for all businesses (but especially SMEs) and apprentices across the region.

In around six weeks his team has already supported over 60 businesses and by the end of February had enabled nine people to start an apprenticeship.

The Hub team has over 25 years’ experience in apprenticeships, working in training, in universities and professional bodies, they are well-placed to not only support business in every step of employing an apprentice but more importantly maximising the impact the apprentice has their business. 

“My role is to lead the development of South Yorkshire Apprenticeship Hub and to collaborate across all of the region, representing all of the training providers, engaging with employers – and to make people better informed about apprenticeships.”

We asked Keith to share his thoughts on the South Yorkshire Apprenticeship Hub and tell us more about what modern apprenticeships can do to help shape the economic landscape, fill skills gaps and support businesses and employees to grow and thrive.

Consultancy with no charge to Businesses

Keith and his team offer a consultation service to employers, which is fully funded – that means sound skills and training advice at no cost to the employer.

The hub, which was launched by regional civic and business leaders, can offer this free and impartial advice across the Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield area. It’s a full-range service, from initial consultation right through to getting an apprentice on board and learning with the best training provider to deliver on your needs.  

“When we carry out a consultation we visit the business and talk to them to understand the skills needed. We take them right through to getting the apprentice on board and making sure the apprenticeship is successful and adding value to the business. That way employers themselves become advocates for the scheme,” he said.

“Our initial work was targeted towards supporting SMEs who haven’t recently employed an apprentice, however we are finding employers of all size are turning to the hub to access support on how best to develop the skills they need.”

We are hugely supportive of this initiative that creates a one-stop shop for employers and people looking to take up apprenticeships. Our members tell us that creating a strong pipeline of skilled workers is incredibly important to the long term viability of their businesses. We know the opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’ is a hugely attractive proposition and will help future proof the skills needed for our regional economy to prosper.”

Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Louisa Harrison-Walker

Skills gaps

“There is a lot of talk about skills deficits both nationally and regionally,” says Keith. “A lot of businesses have people who have been promoted because of their experience in a different role, but then in their new role they are not performing at the same level because they have not got the appropriate skills or training to move to that next level.”

Apprenticeship training can be offered to existing employees to upskill them or it could mean a business taking on a new employee, an apprentice, to fill a skills gap. Apprenticeship training can range from entry level right up to masters degree level, and apprentices can have just left school or be employees in their 40s and 50s

“But for employers trying to navigate the apprenticeship programme can be a minefield; they don’t know where to start,” says Keith. “For a business to employ an apprentice, there is a lot go through, the documentation and the Government websites can be alien to some businesses and it’s time consuming. We can help to set it up and support and guide them through the process.

“We are in a unique place where we can provide consultancy – not selling – apprenticeships to employers. We want to find out what skills they need and what apprentice, or apprentice training would be right.”

Businesses can contact the hub to ask for support, but Keith and his team are also going out to businesses pro-actively offering their support and consultancy services.

“We go out to talk to them about their business and see if they have a ‘people’ plan to help them achieve what they want to achieve,” he said. “We can help them formulate those people development strategies.”

Employers have reported positive results and benefits from apprenticeship schemes.

Apprenticeship statistics

The numbers add up

- 86% of employers said apprenticeships helped them develop skills relevant to their organisation

- 78% of employers said apprenticeships helped them improve productivity

- 74% of employers said apprenticeships helped them improve the quality of their product or service


All of this is funded, so there is no cost to businesses with money and support coming from South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority and the South Yorkshire College Partnership in association with South Yorkshire Providers Network.

“The breadth and depth of what it offers is significant,” says Keith. “Businesses might not be aware of the range of apprentices available or how to access them. The South Yorkshire Apprenticeship Hub offers that one stop shop that supports employers employ apprentices.

If you’re a SME in the Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield area and want to know more about apprenticeship schemes and how they could help your company. Book a bespoke consultation here.



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