By Sarah Hancock AAT news The bond between AAT and employers 1 Dec 2014 Sarah Hancock is a Regional Account Manager here at AAT. Sarah has been working with the team since 2012. With a background in Employer Business Development within a further education college, employer engagement has always been on her agenda. How has the landscape changed for the further education sector working with employers? The further education sector has been squeezed and cuts are continually being made which means we have to work harder to ensure FE colleges and training providers are working with employers to give the right skills for the current and future labour market. Traditionally, we would build relationships with employers in the public sector and shared financial service centres because they had a larger demand for staff wanting to study AAT. However this dynamic has certainly shifted over recent years. Sarah Hancock, Regional Account Manager at AAT We now work alongside organisations large and small in both private and public sector industries. At AAT we offer a number of products and services so it’s imperative that we are continually building relationships so we can understand what employers need in terms of skills development and we can advise accordingly. Also with the increase in the number of SMEs and microbusinesses within the UK we are reaching out to these enterprises to ensure they recognise the importance of strong financial understanding in order to help business growth. How does AAT build strong relationships with employers? As mentioned above, our main focus is raising awareness of our qualification suite but also understanding different business models so we can advise employers on the right types of training and qualification development to suit their business now and in the future. We engage with organisations such as the Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses and Local Enterprise Projects to identify employers with training needs. We also work with numerous training providers to ensure they are equipped and confident to offer the benefits of the AAT pathways and they also have the right support from us to deliver our qualifications and study materials to suit individual learners. The objective is to bridge any communication gaps and offer support and opportunities to employers and their staff. Can you tell us how AAT is involved with the Trailblazer project? The Trailblazer programme has been established by Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to give employers the chance to design apprenticeship standards that meet their business requirements. AAT is a proud partner of the Trailblazer group helping ensure that those undertaking apprenticeships are able to get professional accreditation. We have been proactive with this project by setting up employer Round Table meetings across the UK to ensure we are supporting employers with the project. The Trailblazer project is a great way to get employers in the driving seat, making sure we’re developing skills and qualifications that correlate to UK industries. Click here to find out more about AAT’s involvement in the Trailblazer project and how apprenticeships continue to gain further recognition. Sarah Hancock is a Regional Account Manager for AAT.