National Apprenticeship Week 2021: Parliament urged to create a ‘single portal’ for apprenticeships

Carlene Jackson, CEO of Cloud9 Insight, based in Brighton, East Sussex

In advance of National Apprenticeship Week, Cloud9 Insight CEO Carlene Jackson told the All-Party Parliamentary group that apprentices and employers would benefit from simple, user-friendly system

The government should create a ‘single portal’ for apprenticeships which could be accessed by employers, potential trainees and parents, parliament has been told.

Carlene Jackson, chief executive and founder of Brighton-based tech company Cloud9 Insight, urged a rethink of how apprenticeships are delivered and is pushing for greater flexibility and better use of technology in the delivery and provision.

Speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Apprenticeships in January, she said:

“There’s no single portal for employers like myself who would like to employ an apprentice,” she said.

“I’d love to see a government portal where, whether it’s as a parent or school, you can send students to. Why can’t they go there and see who those employers are that are offering all of those degree or other level apprenticeships, or even work experience? Why not take it to that level, because it’s about getting a foot in the door.”

Jackson has herself taken on a number of apprentices since founding Cloud9 Insight in 2010 and says they can transform lives.

“I’ve taken on apprentices with no experience or skills and, within a couple of years, they’ve gone on to take jobs where they earned £40,000 a year – that’s the sort of message we should be giving to young people.”

Jackson says the past year has been disastrous for apprenticeships and training as employers have found it so difficult to take on new people and give them proper support and mentoring under Covid-19 restrictions.

“You should be able to provide apprenticeships via online learning,” Jackson says. “The past year has been terrible for training. I had planned to start running an apprenticeship business, but it was impossible. We need a big update to how we provide apprenticeships, otherwise we are going to have a massive skills gap.”

“We should make them shorter and easier to access online as 18 months is too long for most people. If they were nine months and matched the academic year that would be a lot more practical, the drop-out rate would be lower and also employers may be more likely to make the investment.”