PLANS to extend an agreement between a council and college for an apprenticeship programme for a further year have been agreed.
Hartlepool Borough Council works closely with the Hartlepool College of Further Education and regularly takes on apprentices for a variety of roles in the authority.
Senior officers wanted permission to enter into a permanent arrangement.
But independent councillor Paul Thompson, portfolio holder for finance and corporate services, said while he was happy to extend the current arrangement to August 31, 2014, he wanted to see an option for other organisations to provide an apprenticeship programme.
At a recent meeting, Coun Thompson asked for clarification on the apprenticeship programme that was operated by the council’s own Adult Education service, in comparison to the service offered by the FE College.
Officers confirmed the Adult Education service did offer apprenticeships in business administration and customer service to employers.
But due to job evaluation, apprentices employed by the council would be paid a higher salary than those employed through the arrangements with the college.
As a result of budget restrictions the decision had been taken to enter into the current arrangement with the college.
Coun Thompson said: “To ensure the council achieves best value, officers have been asked to explore the potential future procurement options for the recruitment and replacement of apprentices.
“I agreed to extend the current arrangements in order to take on new apprenticeships in September.
“In the mean time the officers have been tasked with carrying out a full review.”
In 2011, Hartlepool Council had 22 apprenticeships from the FE College, which is the largest provider of apprenticeships within town, across a range of departments including business administration and building control.
Meanwhile, in 2012 the number was 21, which included bricklayers, heating engineers and apprentices in business administration and housing services.
Under the partnership arrangement the FE College acts as a “managing training agent” and employs the new apprentices and places them within the council, with the local authority paying the college for the apprentice’s services.