Calderdale watchdog board urges council to step up apprenticeships for looked after young people

A watchdog board wants to see a council step up efforts to place more of its looked after young people into apprenticeships within its organisation.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 7:00 am
Councillor Sue Holdsworth

Calderdale Council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Board heard this summer that the council has an apprenticeship scheme which offers a guaranteed interview for all care leavers and children who are looked after – but numbers had significantly reduced under the COVID-19 pandemic and at present there were no care leavers in council apprenticeships.

After a question and answer session, Board Chair Coun Colin Raistrick (Ind, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) said he hoped that would be changing.

“I am very keen on Caldetrdale council, the family firm, employing family members,” he said.

He said he hoped officers took note of board members’ determination to improve the situation.

“Members care a lot about this and rightly so,” he said.

From 2015-2019 seven people had begun apprenticeships with the council, the board heard.

Work was under way to develop more, and also with organisations outside the council, including other public and private organisations, said Mr Murray.

Organisational Development Officer Sarah Hunt said it had been a difficult year for the council with apprenticeships not being offered but that was changing as staffs returned to offices.

Mr Murray said the directorate wanted to build into contracts that employers will be expected to work with the council, helping to provide apprenticeships for looked after children and care leavers.

For example, this could be built into contracts with the building trade, giving added social value to Calderdale, he said.

Coun Raistrick wanted to know who identified which looked after children and young people were eligible for a job.

Ms Hunt said when opportunities came through the Pathways and 16 Plus teamsto offer the roles to them and encourage them to apply, supporting them with career advice, interview skills and help filling in application forms.

Coun Sue Holdsworth (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland), who had experience working in careers, said all levels of entry to opportunities should be coinsidered, for example entering university, and asked if there were partnerships with universities as well. “It’s not one size fits all,” she said.

Mr Murray said some universities were care leaver friendly.

Coun Dot Foster (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) wanted to know what the application success rate was. Ms Hunt said she could get figures for her.