James Cowper Kreston assist in Oxford International College acquisition by Oxford International Education Group

James Cowper Kreston assist in Oxford International College acquisition by Oxford International Education Group

James Cowper Kreston are pleased to announce the successful acquisition of Oxford International College by Oxford International Education Group (OIEG), the private education provider backed by Bowmark Capital. The corporate finance team provided transaction support services to OIEG as part of this transaction.

Oxford International Education Group have an extensive portfolio of schools with an international range. The addition of Oxford International College, the third Oxford College now owned by the group gives both parents and students more options to suit their specific educational needs, whether based domestically or overseas.

The corporate finance team at James Cowper Kreston provided transaction support services to OIEG to assist the financing and acquisition decision. The team worked closely with OIEG and Bowmark Capital throughout the transaction process.

Brad McAvoy, Corporate Finance Director at James Cowper Kreston said: “This is the first time we have worked with OIEG and Bowmark Capital and we were pleased to be involved in their growth strategy. Our work provided insight to OIEG as to how Oxford International College would function financially alongside the existing OIEG colleges. We are thrilled the acquisition was a success and hope to work with OIEG again in the future.”


James Cowper Kreston

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Richard Kennell | Your Voice

Richard Kennell, CEO and Founder of SOFEA, tells Oxfordshire voice about his Educational Training Charity ‘SOFEA’ and about its roll, redistributing surplus food from supermarkets to charities, so they can reduce their running costs and also young people can get training through working for SOFEA, enabling them to change their prospects after school.

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Don’t let the Treasury run the levy dry

The latest OV forum has highlighted a range of concerns over the way the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy is in danger of turning a force for good into a bad idea.

Oxfordshire Voice partners are calling on the Government to rethink its Apprenticeship Levy.

The Levy was set up in 2017. It requires businesses with payroll in excess of £3m to pay a 0.5% levy to the government. The money collected can then be used across the country by firms to fund apprenticeship schemes.

Companies can apply for the money through a government website by clicking this link: https://accounts.manage-apprenticeships.service.gov.uk/service/index

There is also more information on the Gov.uk website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeship-levy/apprenticeship-levy

Results of a recent survey by Oxford Brookes University and Oxfordshire Voice and a follow-up forum held at Brookes in April has highlighted concerns over the way the levy is being operated.

The forum found that whilst the levy is a good idea, it is being squandered by a lack of coherent information. This confusion and lack of awareness mean many firms are not taking advantage of the fund.

The survey found that four out of every five Oxfordshire businesses (80%) were unlikely to spend their full entitlement from the levy on apprentices this year.

The real concern here is the way the Treasury, which holds the collected levy funds, can claw back the money over time if it goes unused. This has led to accusations that the schemes is – for the most part – no more than a stealth tax on business.

A number of businesses at the forum also raised concerns over the involvement of Ofsted – the Government regulator for standards in education – which they believe has too dominant and constricting a role in the way apprenticeship schemes are managed.

The OV forum voted to adopt a range of outcomes to highlight and better exploit the advantages of the Apprenticeship levy. It also made a number of recommendations – based on the experiences of companies using the scheme:

• The existing Apprenticeship Levy Policy needs longer to be embedded, adopted and understood by the market.
• The levy needs to be run with ‘local’ rules of engagement rather than national as different regions have different apprenticeship requirements
• More government funding is needed to better promote awareness of apprenticeships and the types of apprenticeships available
• Separate and more flexible funding for shorter course apprenticeships, or those that don’t quite fit the existing outlines. I.e. More flexibility on what funding can be used for (e.g. life/social skills). I
• Is it absolutely necessary to have an English & Maths requirement at the current level? This can exclude a great number of people of all aged and experience who could otherwise benefit from an apprenticeship
• There should be more opportunity to ‘showcase’ examples of best practice in apprenticeship engagement. e.g. Blenheim.
• Using apprenticeships as an option for re-skilling and up-skilling.
• New name for apprenticeships – Change the mind-set of what an apprenticeship is.
• Encourage schools to promote apprenticeships to the same degree as higher education.
• How can we use the circa £4m fund locally and retain/manage locally?
• Look at the inspection factor – OFSTED. Or give it to another organisation. We should challenge OFSTED on the criteria it uses. Investigate whether OFSTED is the appropriate inspector to oversee the Apprenticeship Levy.
• Aim for a system that stays ahead of the curve. Equip people with the skills to adapt to future changes (watch “Shift Happens”).
• Wellbeing awareness in the workplace.

What do you think about the levy?

Is it a force for real business growth and worth expanding?

How is it affecting your business?

Join in the conversation in the comments below.

Forum Panelists:

• Edward Collett, Head of Business Development & Marketing at Abingdon & Witney College
• Sarah Cullimore, Head of UK Partnerships and Apprenticeships at Oxford Brookes University
• Richard Byard, Director of Business Development at Oxfordshire LEP
• Phil Southall, Managing Director at Oxford Bus Company
• Tom J Pearce, Assistant Manager of Talent Solutions and Growth Services at Grant Thornton
• Megan Cater, HR Manager at Blenheim Palace

Forum Host:
Chris Blackburn, Pro Vice-Chancellor & Dean of Oxford Brookes University

View photos from the forum here

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Oxfordshire Voice Skills

FORUM 2: Why is it so difficult for us to recruit the best workforce?

Forum date & Venue

Thursday 15th November 2018
Pembroke College, Oxford, St. Aldates, Oxfordshire OX1 1DW

The forum on the future of work in Oxfordshire had a broader cross section of attendees then our first forum. We also decided to run an open debate without a panel and one invigilator. It was encouraging to see members of county and city councils in the audience as well as a range of employers, employees and recruitment agencies.

Agencies came in for some criticism in a number of areas. Some were accused of recruiting new staff for companies and then attempting to lure those same employees to different companies just a year later. This was only based on anecdotal evidence and there was no suggestion that any of the agencies represented at the forum had engaged in this practice.

The forum agreed that although there were many exciting and attractive jobs available in Oxfordshire the county was guilty of not promoting the advantages of living and working here enough.

The forum was also the first one to make the point that the three main goals of OV (housing, employment, transport) are all inextricably linked. Again, there may be great jobs available in Oxfordshire but with an inadequate transport infrastructure and lack of affordable or appropriate housing – you won’t attract the right workforce.

It is worth noting during all the forums and at the launch of OV at the Blavatnik School of Government we recorded and videoed feedback from many partners.

Simon Howson-Green, Oxfordshire Voice

We welcome your comments and views. Get involved today!

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Jayne Woodley | Your Voice

Jayne Woodley from Oxfordshire Community Foundation gives her opinion on what needs to change in Oxfordshire, from Educational attainment and falling the young to housing and homelessness.

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Oxfordshire must take a more holistic approach to recruitment or lose the best workers to other regions

• Would-be workers are told about the job but not enough about Oxfordshire
• Survey finds most employers in Oxfordshire think recruitment agencies could do better
• Oxfordshire failing to provide enough affordable housing and facilities to attract workers
• Recruiting and keeping staff is often a struggle in Oxfordshire
• Huge potential need to be harnessed better with joined-up thinking

Businesses and recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire aren’t doing enough to attract the best, much needed, new employees to the region.

Employers need to be more creative and sell the advantages of a living in Oxfordshire alongside the benefits and opportunities of the actual job.

That’s according to the latest survey by Oxfordshire Voice (www.oxvoice.co.uk).

The poll of four hundred businesses, local government organisations and employees in Oxfordshire found more than seventy percent felt the way jobs were advertised by firms and recruitment agencies was too limited.

The findings of the survey were backed-up by an Oxfordshire Voice (OV) discussion forum held in the at Pembroke College. The survey formed the agenda for the forum.

“The feedback from the survey and the resounding voice of the forum are both very clear: Oxfordshire is selling itself short and not doing enough joined-up thinking to attract much needed skilled workers,” says Simon Howson-Green, who co-chaired the Q&A session on behalf of OV.

Oxfordshire is home to more than 30,000 VAT registered businesses of all shapes and sizes. The survey also found that more than half of employers in the area often struggled to fill vacancies and hold on to their staff.

The challenges posed by the lack of affordable housing was one of the key factors blamed for recruitment problems in the county. The forum heard from a number of contributors who said that although the City of Oxford had so much in its favour it was struggling to promote itself as an attractive and vibrant place to live and work due to the significant housing affordability gap.

Armed with the survey results and the open and frank discussion the OV Forum members voted to adopt four outcomes which will form part of the Oxfordshire Voice business plan for change. These included working alongside a range of organisations to offer a more flexible working environment and more comprehensive and affordable housing schemes.

The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is a member of Oxfordshire Voice and ahead of further events being annouced, it is encouraging more businesses to sign up and take part in debates. Communications Manager, Rob Panting says, “Through Oxfordshire Voice, our business community is able to collectively give their views and opinions on a number of key themes critical to our county’s economy.

“Not only are we currently one of just three net county areas that contribute to the exchequer – with a GVA of £23bn a year – but we have genuine global assets that are growing from strength-to-strength.

“With this in mind, having an engaged business community is vitally-important and we would urge even more businesses to take part in Oxfordshire Voice events.”

“As employers, we must focus on attracting and retaining talent to the County through promoting what Oxfordshire has to offer,” says Jonna Mundy of You HR, also an Oxfordshire Voice Partner “We need to put the County more on the map as being a preferable place to work and turn the recruitment issues experienced on their head. Oxfordshire Voice is really gaining momentum to achieve its vision, being part of this forum gives you a real business buzz!”

Note to editors

About Oxfordshire Voice:
Oxfordshire Voice is a public and private sector collaboration which aims to provide solutions to the key challenges stifling economic development in Oxfordshire. Oxfordshire Voice was set up and is managed by B4, Oxfordshire’s leading business community. For further information about OV see: issuu.com/b4-business/docs/b4_voice_a4

The survey debated at this forum was sent to over 500 business people in the B4 community and was sent out via email on survey monkey. Other Q&A’s are available on request.

More about the Pembroke College forum:
See also link below to pictures from the Pembroke College forum: flic.kr/s/aHsmr4sJ1A

Oxfordshire Voice partners include the following:

Future Oxfordshire Voice events:
Future Oxfordshire Voices events are open to OV partners only. To become an Oxfordshire Voice Partner please contact 01865 742211 or email info@oxvoice.co.uk.

The formal launch of Oxfordshire Voice will take place at The Blavatnik School of Government on Thursday 17th January. The next OV forum will take place at Blenheim Palace on Thursday 31st January.

Attendees at the forum including representatives from the following:

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