The LEP is procuring for the development and design of a new Skills, Apprenticeship and Information Portal. Potential bidders must register and apply via www.supplyhertfordshire.uk by 26 November. 

The LEP’s Skills & Employment Programme Board is committed to improving productivity across Hertfordshire by creating a skilled and motivated workforce which can adapt to meet current and future business needs. To this end, the LEP is looking to procure the development and design of a Skills, Apprenticeship and Information Portal. 

Project brief

The Portal will be a tool to help promote opportunities for young people to undertake apprenticeships, traineeships and workplace training, particularly at higher skill levels such as advanced apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships. A number of resources will be available for students, parents and teachers to find out more about the different options on offer and an Adviser will be on hand to answer any questions they may have over the phone or face to face.

The Portal will provide impartial and independent advice, both electronically and via a dedicated Skills Adviser (to be based within the Hertfordshire Growth Hub). This will support SMEs to make more informed decisions with regards to their skills and/or apprenticeship needs. It will also provide clarity on 'next steps', remove barriers for SMEs and in turn, will result in additional apprenticeship starts in the county.

The Contract will initially be for a 3 year period, with an option to extend for up to a further 3 years, year on year. The total budget for the service is £300,000, of which £150,000 is guaranteed. The additional £150,000 is subject to the LEP being successful in a European Social Fund application.

About the project

The latest review of the local economy highlights a very tight labour market in Hertfordshire. Employers have indicated that they are struggling to recruit staff with the desired skill set, and that lack of appropriate skills amongst existing employees is adversely affecting their ability to grow their business.

SMEs make up the vast majority of businesses in Hertfordshire but only 20% of small businesses and 11% of micro businesses have employed at least one apprentice in the past 12 months, compared to 52% and 32% for large and medium-sized businesses respectively. Hertfordshire SMEs are also more likely to report a negative impact on their business due to skills gaps than for England as a whole, i.e. 75% of Hertfordshire SMEs compared to 63% in England.

The Apprenticeship Levy may over time increase the number of local businesses who are looking for new apprentice recruits, in turn resulting in an increase in the number of local businesses and residents seeking impartial advice and guidance on apprenticeships.

More work is needed to make students aware of the variety of options available to them once they leave secondary school, and supporting the work of our Enterprise Adviser Network programme, the provision of better access to impartial advice and guidance is vital.

A focused and locally led investment in skills infrastructure will enable us to better nurture a skilled workforce that meets local employers’ needs.

Scope and opportunity

There are a number of nationwide services available that promote apprenticeships including the Get In Go Far government campaign. This website is tailored to students, but also has information available for employers, teachers and parents. However, this operates on a national level and does not cover all the available routes into employment.

In Hertfordshire, there is no single online Portal that offers guidance on the full range of routes into employment, which caters to both students and employers. The Hertfordshire Portal will fill this gap, as well as being a source of information on the local employers, both large and small, from Hertfordshire’s leading industry sectors, including:

  • Science/technology
  • Engineering & manufacturing
  • Film & media
  • Financial & business services
  • High end logistics
  • Built environment

This service will not duplicate existing provision, rather connect existing organisations delivering apprenticeships and qualifications in Hertfordshire. The Portal will include links to the Growth Hub, the four FE colleges, the University of Hertfordshire and other locally based providers via the Beds, Herts & Milton Keynes Providers Network. 

This single Portal for employers, potential apprentices and providers will support the delivery of the three key themes of the Apprenticeship strategy. These are:

  • Increasing apprenticeship opportunities – working with employers to understand the business benefits of the apprenticeship offer.
  • Supporting potential apprentices – to ensure they understand the benefits of apprenticeships and are of the required calibre for business and are supported into work.
  • Sharing best practise – Supporting the Hertfordshire provider base to continually evaluate the local offer in order to ensure provision meets current and future business needs.

The full brief is available on the Supply Hertfordshire website. Potential applicants must register at www.supplyhertfordshire.uk and apply by 26 November.