Is B2B marketing dying in a post-GDPR world?

Has the fear of GDPR penalties made us all afraid of B2B Marketing?

Here at ITEC we are in the business of organising IT and Business Apprenticeships for local businesses but to do this we need to be able to contact them and talk to them.    We would like to make them aware of the availability of Government funding to help train their workforce, the courses and programmes we run that could help them train tomorrow’s workforce and the Government’s target of 3 million apprentices by 2020.

The usual email-shots and leaflet drops with follow-up calls have caused a bit of a stir this month.  Frequently, businesses are telling us that we can’t do this now because of GDPR.  Really?  We think the misconceptions about GDPR and its consequences seem to have frightened businesses away from B2B marketing.

Customer ServiceHow can businesses reach out to new customers?  How do you grow your business without B2B marketing?  How can businesses tell potential customers about their products and offers if we can’t contact them “without their permission”?  Well, we can!   We may have a ‘legitimate business interest’ for contacting them and do not need to rely on ‘permission’ to make initial contact.   Of course, they can then ask us to remove them from our list and not contact them in future, as this is their right, and we will honour that.

However, the GDPR was not put in place to prevent B2B marketing from happening.  It was put in place to give us more control over the personal data that is kept on us and how it is used.  It especially allows us, as individuals, to have our data deleted if we have a legitimate reason to request this and to ‘opt out’ of being contacted on a regular basis.  The GDPR was also put in place to stop all those nuisance calls at home, for instance, “have you been in a road accident recently?”  Grrrr….. our personal data cannot be sold to third parties as easily as before the GDPR and about time too!

We don’t profess to be GDPR experts but we have analysed the data we keep, documented the legal bases for keeping it and ensured that it will be deleted once it has past its ‘sell by date’.   In most cases, we keep personal data for contractual reasons and only share it with the legitimate contractors (in our case the Government Agency and the local funding organisation, usually one of the colleges).   We never sell personal data on to a third party, ever.

We do believe we have a legitimate business interest for B2B marketing and, as a business, you may be able to rely on this basis as well.  Check it out with the ICO, they are, after all, the experts.



Apprenticeships and Off-the-Job Training (the facts) #Apprenticeships #ITApprenticeships #Essex

Apprenticeships, by their very design, have always had elements of off-the-job training in some form or another but they are vocational courses and, as such, are predominantly on-the-job training.

Apprenticeship_Employers_BadgeWith the implementation of the Government reforms to Apprenticeships post-May 2017 there came the new ruling of mandatory 20% off-the-job training, bringing in a quantitative measure for training away from the day to day pressures of work.   For many employers and apprentices, it was business as usual, as day release to the training provider was part and parcel of the apprenticeship but for several others, it was a complete change in how their apprenticeship was going to work.  But what is off-the-job training?

  • Off-the-job training is defined as training received by the apprentice, during their normal working hours, for the purpose of achieving their apprenticeship.
  • It is NOT training delivered for the sole purpose of enabling the apprentice to perform the work for which they are employed.

However, 20% does not need to equate to 1 day a week at a training provider.  It can be delivered at different times within the programme, for example, it can be formed of intense specialised training at the start of an apprenticeship or pockets of blended learning delivered in the workplace at intervals throughout the programme.  To be successfully delivered, off-the-job training should be designed to meet the skills and knowledge needs of the apprentices and the business of the employers.

  • It must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship framework or standard, teaching new knowledge, skills and behaviours required to reach competence in a particular occupation.
  • It is time that is NOT spent as part of their normal working duties on the ‘productive job’.  To count it needs to be the case that apprentices are not undertaking normal day-to-day duties and their time is being spent in some form of training or development relevant to the outcomes of the apprenticeship.

The Government’s expectation is that off-the-job training is specifically designed to support the development of new behaviours, skills and knowledge linked to the actual vocational occupation.

However, when there is training, coaching and development provided for getting the apprentice up to speed with a task that will become part of their normal job and also teaches the knowledge, skills and behaviours required by the apprenticeship outcomes it can be classed as off-the-job training.  Induction in itself is not eligible as off-the-job-training but can be included where formal training is included within the induction sessions.

Some apprentices need to upskill in English and/or Maths to reach the standards required for the outcomes of the apprenticeship.  Where this is the case, the English and/or Maths training is in addition to the 20% off-the-job training.   The key principle being that apprentices who require English and Maths are not disadvantaged in the volume of vocational off-the-job training they receive compared to those apprentices not requiring English and/or Maths.

Apprenticeships MUST be completed within the apprentice’s paid hours.    This means that off-the-job training is a calculation within an apprentice’s annual hours of work.   This also means, where apprentices are required to attend off-the-job training outside of their working hours, the employer must compensate the apprentice with time off in lieu (TOIL) or similar arrangements.   This also means, where an apprentice is unable to attend a planned session of off-the-job training, they agree with their employer to catch up on the missed content of the programme and this must be within their working hours.

Here at ITEC, our Curriculum Manager, Kerry Prigg, will assist employers and apprentices with building an off-the-job training plan that meets the outcomes of each apprenticeship.   This means that a blended approach can be used meaning apprentices can attend day release sessions for our most common modules, e.g. CompTIA A+ or Microsoft’s MTA Network Fundamentals, plus on-line learning for individually selected vendor qualifications, e.g Cisco or Huawei, plus ad-hoc training workshops to build on the behaviours required in most modern jobs, e.g. customer service, communication skills, project management, etc.

ITEC Advert March 2018Need help with apprenticeships?  ITEC specialises in IT technical, Digital and Business apprenticeships.  If we can’t help, we know someone who can!  Contact our Youth Programmes Manager, Toni Marshall, today on 01268 286929 or



National Apprenticeship Week #NAW2018

It’s National Apprenticeship week #NAW2018 #Apprenticeships #ITApprenticeship #Essex

Considering hiring an apprentice? Here are 5 reasons why you should!

More and more employers today are waking up to the benefits of apprenticeships. This can either be employing a new member of staff as an apprentice or encouraging an existing employee to further their career by taking an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship allows an individual to study for a work-based qualification that can significantly improve their future earning power and career enjoyment. But it also provides many benefits for the employer.


Josh Barwick close up

Joshua Barwick ITEC Apprentice of the Year 2017



Here are five key benefits of apprenticeships:

  1. Apprenticeships provide skilled workers for the future. Training helps employees to improve their skills, which will benefit the company in the long term. It will also ensure that the skills developed are matched to the company’s future needs. This will help fill any skills gaps and allow the business to source future managers and leaders from within.
  2. Apprenticeships increase staff loyalty and retention. Employees who have been trained in-house tend to be highly motivated, committed to the company and supportive of its business objectives.  An apprenticeship encourages employees to think of their job as a career and to stay with the company for longer, which reduces recruitment costs. Offering an apprenticeship to an existing member of staff shows that you see them as an integral part of the workforce and are happy to invest in their future.
  3. Apprenticeships increase a company’s bottom line, investing in staff trained through apprenticeships has a positive effect on a company’s finances, making it more competitive
  4. Apprenticeships free up existing staff time.  As a business grows, staff often find their time is taken up by smaller tasks when they should be concentrating on their key areas of work.   Delegating these basic jobs to an apprentice allows them to learn and take responsibility, while freeing up the time of your more experienced staff. Better allocation of work should make your business more productive.
  1. Apprentices can revitalise a company. Apprentices often bring a fresh approach and a positive attitude into the workplace, which can have a knock-on effect on existing staff. By embarking on an apprenticeship, they are showing themselves to be willing to learn and can bring new ideas into the company. As apprentices come from a range of backgrounds – including high-calibre candidates who do not want the costs of going to university – they can bring fresh insight into your business activities.

92% of employers say an apprentice has led to a more motivated workforce

Did you know……

…… ITEC is a not-for-profit training provider with over 30 years experience so we can guarantee it is always about the people!

……. Apprenticeships at ITEC include IT professional qualifications 

……. Cyber-security Technologist is now available as an apprenticeship

……. ITEC has launched the new Business Admin Apprenticeship Standard

Finally, a company that is willing to invest in people by supporting apprenticeships is showing a positive approach to Corporate Social Responsibility, which is good for attracting both customers and future high-quality staff.

National Apprenticeship Service data has shown that 81% of consumers favour using a company that takes on apprentices.

If you would like to know more about apprenticeships and how they can help your business call ITEC and speak to our designated apprenticeship team on 01268 286929 or email   



Apprenticeship ‘Exclusivity’ contracts – are they right for the apprentice and the employer?

Last week at ITEC we received a phone call from a national provider who informed us that they have an ‘exclusivity contract’ with a local school, with whom we have worked with for the past 10 years or so prior to the Apprenticeship Levy coming in to play.

Now this shouldn’t be a problem, I hear you say, as we specialise in IT technical apprenticeships, whereas they specialise in a different sector and they do not deliver the IT standard the employer and their apprentice want.

However, because of this ‘exclusivity’ clause in their contract, it seems this provider is going to attempt to run this specialised IT programme for this apprentice, despite the fact that the employer wants to purchase this training with ITEC and has agreed a contract with us to deliver this standard.    The provider is in control of the employer’s levy funds not the employer!

This concerns us on many levels.   This is clearly not in the apprentice’s best interests, it isn’t what the employer wants and is ignoring their right to choose, and it reflects poor practice as a training provider, which reflects on all of us in this sector.   It shouldn’t be about the funding and the money, it should always be (first, last and everything in between) about the people!

Apprenticeship_Employers_BadgeThe Government Agency, ESFA, are absolutely adamant that employers must be in the driving seat for spending their apprenticeship levy funds and procuring the right training for their apprentice.    So how do ‘exclusivity’ clauses work with this aspiration?    This training provider is actively preventing this employer from choosing who they want to work with on this occasion to the detriment of the apprentice, who should, after all is said and done, be the most important person in this transaction!

We see how ‘exclusivity’ can work in certain sectors.  For example, a national training provider specialising in Care may have an exclusive contract to provide apprenticeship training for a national Care Home provider or a national training provider in Hair may have an exclusive contract with a salon franchise.   But this shouldn’t be to the exclusion of all else, should it?    We are perplexed as to why a training provider thinks it is in the best interests of the employer and the apprentice to deliver something that is not in their current remit and which they do not have a track record with, especially when the employer has a long-standing relationship with a training provider that does have that specialism.

It’s not something we would do here at ITEC nor would it even cross our minds.   We specialise in IT so why would we try to deliver apprenticeships in other areas that we know nothing about, for example, Hairdressing or Sports Management?   When one of our employers wants something we cannot deliver, we refer them on to a specialist provider who can help.   That is the right and proper thing to do and is in the best interests of the employer and apprentice, isn’t it?

In the example given above, the training provider needs to be flexible with their approach to applying the ‘exclusivity’ clause when there is a need to run a specialised programme for an apprentice that is outside their scope.  To try to run a one-off programme in an area that is not their speciality when there is a small, local provider like us who is able to run it, is doing a disservice to the apprentice, the employer, reflects badly on our sector and is, quite frankly, an abuse of the system.  But that’s just our opinion!  What’s yours?

#Apprenticeship #Apprenticeshiplevy #ITApprenticeships

@AELPUK @ESFAgov @ESFAdigital @NickLinford @tes @tesfenews @halfon4harlowMP

@Apprenticeships @Metcalfe_SBET @AnneMilton



Apprenticeship Reforms – the next challenges

Apprenticeship Reforms – 2018, the next challenges – 1.  bring SME’s back to Apprenticeships and 2.  Save our Level 2 IT Technical Apprenticeship #Apprenticeships #Essex #Post16 #ITApprenticeships

Apprenticeship_Employers_BadgeHere at ITEC, our aim during 2018 is to bring SME’s back into Apprenticeships.  The new IT and Business Administration Standards Apprenticeships were written by employer panels made up of large employers and, as such, favour the types of jobs available in large corporations.

Jobs in large companies are usually made up of a high volume of work in the same discipline.   But what of the variety of jobs in small employers?   As many people who have worked for small organisations know, you need to be multi-tasking most of the time as there is a smaller volume of work in each discipline and a greater number of disciplines making up your day.

So, can the standards work in this environment?   ITEC’s day release training programme covers all aspects of the standard so the technical skills and knowledge development requirements are covered.  We also have workshops available through the year to develop the wider personal skills, e.g. time management, communication, project management, etc.

There are Gateway qualifications on the way to End Point Assessment (EPA) which may be professional vendor qualifications such as CompTIA’s Network+ or Microsoft Office Specialist, or may be approved qualifications from City & Guilds or BCS.

EPA is taken at the end of the Apprenticeship and is made up of a synoptic project to test skills, a knowledge test, a summative portfolio and an interview by an external assessor.  The EPA will be graded too, so apprentices now have the opportunity to attain a ‘Distinction’.   Where the job may not provide evidence for the whole of the standard, we have some skills competitions and job swaps planned to enable our apprentices to demonstrate their acquired skills.

At the moment, the Standards Apprenticeships are only available at level 3 and above, which is disappointing for our school leavers going into their first jobs.  As the apprenticeship is End Point, it is unlikely that the job will be at level 3 to begin with and, if a level 2 standard is not forthcoming, this will prove to be a barrier to apprenticeships for these young people.

CompTIA logoLevel 2 frameworks continue to be available at the present time and this may well be the case until 2020.   Our level 2 IT Technical apprenticeship is available for all new starts and includes the CompTIA A+ and 2 Microsoft MTA awards (Networking Fundamentals and Server Admin.   Historically, this has proven to be an excellent starting vehicle for young people wanting to go into an IT professional career and our SME’s feel this is a good fit as a starting point for their recruitment and development needs.

Can we get some smaller employers together to write the level 2 standard as an employer group?  Mmmm, let’s see what we can do!  If you’re interested in helping, get in touch and Save our Level 2 Apprenticeships. #Saveourapprenticeships #saveourlevel2apprenticeship

So, whether you are a small to medium non-levy paying employer or whether you are a large levy paying employer, ITEC can assist with your IT and Business Apprenticeship requirements.   Toni Marshall is on hand to help with recruitment, initial assessment and sign-up of your apprentice.  Call her on 01268 286929 or email   Our team of delivery specialists can assist with training course content, matching job specifications to the apprenticeship standards and planning the apprenticeship journey.   Our training schedule for the first half of 2018 is available and our delivery team are ready to deliver their technical courses to your apprentices.

Huawei INANew for 2018 – ITEC Learning Technologies has the first Huawei-approved trainer in the UK.  Our Huawei training academy is now open for other schools and colleges to train their IT trainers paid for by Huawei.  Contact Kirk Redhead on 01268 286929 or email for further details.  Hurry, the free of charge training from Huawei is for a limited period.




Apprenticeship Reforms – 2017, a nightmare year of changes, our ‘Annus Horribilis’

Here at ITEC, after 34 years of working with local employers and training young people, we can honestly say that 2017 has been a year like no other! It has officially been our ‘Annus Horribilis’!

Christmas 2016, just 12 short months ago, we had prepared and submitted our bid to deliver apprenticeships for employers who would not be paying the new apprenticeship levy, coming in April 2017.   We were excited about getting our own contract and identity back after 14 years of enforced subcontracting from larger colleges.   We were finally going to be back on the map as ITEC Learning Technologies, a specialist provider of IT Apprenticeships in Essex.  This aspiration suffered a serious setback in March 2017, when the Government announced the ‘pause’ on the tendering process.

Apprenticeship_Employers_BadgeThe Apprenticeship Reforms kicked in on May 1st 2017 with no details on contracts and funding to support non-levy paying employers.   Colleges did not have sufficient funding in their own contracts to support sub-contractors and ITEC, along with our loyal employers, were left in limbo.   AELP, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, were lobbying hard to make some sense of what was going on and trying their best to get some funding for smaller training providers.   At one point, trying to find funding for apprenticeships for small employers in Essex was likened to trying to find a new Nintendo Switch to buy, as they were rushing off the shelves of local stores.

ITEC was finally provided with a small allocation from our local college and we were back in business for smaller employers.   However, our employers were getting disillusioned and were considering whether to continue supporting apprenticeships or not and some had starting drifting away, making the decision not to recruit this year.


Josh Barwick close up

Joshua Barwick, ITEC Apprectice, receives his Apprentice of the Year Award 2017

In the meantime, we had a lot of interest from larger employers, who, having found themselves paying this new unwanted levy, (read ‘tax’) realised they could use this funding to attract new staff and train them up with ITEC.  The apprenticeship would even provide IT professional vendor qualifications with CompTIA, Cisco and Microsoft.  We spent the summer of 2017 working with these larger employers and introducing them to the benefits of apprenticeships.


In August 2017, the non-levy bid opened up again and the ‘pause’ was removed.  The new bid was much more stringent and challenging than the first one and our management team spent a few weeks putting the bid together.   Our success rates have been at 85% consistently for the past 3 years so we were happy to provide this information for the bid.  The goalposts were moved slightly just at the time of submitting our bid in early September, but after a manic text conversation between ITEC managers and the CEO, who was trying to enjoy a glass of Prosecco in a hotel bar in Sorrento, a conclusion was reached and our new bid submitted.   Then came the waiting game…………

Finally, just last week, on the 8th December, we finally received the good news that we were hoping for.   ITEC has received its own contract to provide apprenticeships to non-levy paying employers from January 1st 2018.   As a small, not-for-profit, specialised training provider, community matters here and ITEC puts people first.  Local really means ‘local’ with our training centre in the heart of the District in Burnt Mills Road, Basildon.

So, whether you are a small to medium non-levy paying employer or whether you are a large levy paying employer, ITEC can assist with your IT and Business Apprenticeship requirements.   Toni Marshall is on hand to help with recruitment, initial assessment and sign-up of your apprentice.  Call her on 01268 286929 or email   Our team of delivery specialists can assist with training course content, matching job specifications to the apprenticeship standards and planning the apprenticeship journey.   Our training schedule for the first half of 2018 is available and our delivery team are ready to deliver their technical courses to your apprentices now.

Huawei AINew for 2018 – ITEC Learning Technologies has the first Huawei-approved trainer in the UK.  Our Huawei training academy is now open for other schools and colleges to train their IT trainers paid for by Huawei.  Contact Kirk Redhead on 01268 286929 or email for further details.  Hurry, the free of charge training from Huawei is for a limited period.


Smart Cities Project – Building a better connected UK

Huawei Smart Cities

ITEC is working with Huawei on its visionary ‘Smart Cities’ Project.   During the summer and autumn of 2017, ITEC has gained HAINA Academy Status with Huawei and has the first qualified trainer in the UK. #Basildon #Essex #Smartcities #Huawei

What is a Smart City?

The term ‘smart city’ is not clearly defined, which is creating confusion and uncertainty for many UK cities.

However, what most smart city definitions have in common, is that they consider the use of new technologies (usually ICT) and data as the means to solve the city’s economic, social and environmental challenges.

Many of us in the UK tend to consider a smart city as clean, with good transport connections.   The words we associate with smart cities include “technology”, “connected”, “fast internet” and “modern”.

In reality, Smart technologies can provide solutions for cities by helping them save money, reduce carbon emissions and manage traffic flows, as well as making local authorities more efficient and more approachable (online).  Or at least that is the intention.

One stumbling block may be the ability of our residents to keep pace with the technological advances that organisations like Huawei are able to provide.  They will undoubtedly have the enthusiasm and the ability to perform great things, but without the infrastructure, education and training for the people using the technology, whether they are Technicians, Administrators or the general public, then progress will be slow.

Quick wins are installation of fibre networks to give access to faster connection to the outside world (always welcome) and improved internal systems. Then those of us who are not quite so “tech-savvy” will get used to having to use them.

However, the perfect Smart City of the future is not that far away.   Part of the Huawei Smart Cities offer includes:

Smart Government

Better services, quick and useful decision-making, forward-looking planning — government done right

Safe CityHuawei INA

Intelligent IT, communications, and video-analysis technologies to keep the public safe

Smart Education

Communicate, educate, succeed. Spread knowledge online to make students smarter and teachers better.

Smart Healthcare

It takes strong medicine to stay healthy and Huawei’s innovative IT solutions help make it happen

Smart Transportation

Integrate traffic signal control, e-Police, and checkpoints for convenient, smooth transportation

Smart Campus

Smart Campus Solution focuses on digital security, intelligent property management, and ‘smart’ office

ITEC’s Huawei Academy is here!

Huawei INAITEC Learning Technologies and Huawei, a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider, have launched their HAINA (Huawei Authorized Information Network Academy) cooperation.    A formal launch is planned and will be held in the next few months in Basildon #Essex

ITEC is also nearing accreditation as a HALP (Huawei Authorised Learning Partner), which means we will be carrying out the training of other trainers from HAINA around the UK.

Huawei AIITEC is proud to announce it has the first trainer in the UK Qualified to train both students and other trainers.

Huawei is also a world leader in smart cities technologies and is looking forward to expanding its influence in the UK as part of its ongoing relationship with ITEC.

This not-for-profit partnership programme allows academic institutions to deliver Huawei Certification training to their students. The programme not only cultivates ICT talent and helps students become employment ready, but also aids in filling the global ICT skills gap by creating a bridge between academia and industry.

A wide range of key industry areas will be covered by the Huawei ICT Academy Programme and students will have the opportunity to gain industry certification and expertise in networking technologies, security, cloud computing technologies, IT storage systems and big data.  Students will gain practical hands-on experience on Huawei’s latest networking technologies as well as being able to download their own personal copy of Huawei’s ENSP (Enterprise Network Simulation Platform) networking simulator.

Kirk Redhead, ITEC’s Business Development Manager, says “The fast-changing nature of technology means that it is crucial for our students to get the best possible hands-on experience to prepare them for future careers in the sector.  Participation in the HAINA programme will give our students a great opportunity to challenge themselves and learn from the best in the industry.”  ITEC will also be making this learning opportunity available for its apprentices and employers in the local ICT sector.

Huawei is currently cooperating with over 240 universities to open Huawei ICT Academies across China, North America, Europe, Australia and more. Every year, the Academy trains over 16,200 students globally. The Huawei ICT Academy programme also runs a global annual ‘Skills Competition’ for students, giving each country’s winners the opportunity to visit China for the finals and compete with other students from across the globe.

ITEC supports both Levy and non-Levy paying employers

So… where are we since the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced?

Here at ITEC, we have been preparing ourselves and our employers for the Apprenticeship Reforms for the past couple of years.   The ways in which Apprenticeships are delivered and funded have both changed dramatically.   ITEC staff have been attending the readiness groups for the new standards and preparing for the funding changes from the Government Agency.

The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced on 1st April 2017, with all new Apprenticeship starts from the 1st May being funded either through the levy or via the non-levy contracting system.   Levy funds are added to the employer’s digital account on the Apprenticeship Service and allocated per apprentice to the training provider, e.g. ITEC.

There were some initial challenges when the Agency cancelled the non-levy tendering process due to commence on 1st May and extended the sub-contracting process.   We were then advised that our prime contractors, South Essex College and Colchester Institute, had not been given sufficient non-levy funding for themselves let alone their sub-contractors but, with some careful planning, they were able to find some funding to support ITEC’s non-levy paying employers.

Needless to say, April and May were very quiet and we spent this time reassuring our employers to stick with Apprenticeships   During June, July and August, we helped some levy paying employers to make sense of the new system and utilise their funding to engage with apprenticeships.   At the moment, we have 16 employers and their apprentices signed up for the new system and several more in the pipeline.

At the end of July, we calculated our success rates and are very pleased to report that they remain excellent at 86.33% averaged across the last 3 years.


Josh Barwick close up

Joshua Barwick, Apprentice of the Year 2017, with ITEC’s former CEO, Malcolm Bridges

As a small, specialised and local IT provider, we aim to meet the needs of apprentices and businesses within a 30-mile radius of our centre in Basildon.   Our specialist training programmes for apprentices and employees include IT Practitioner, IT Professional, IT Infrastructure Technician, Cyber Security, Unified Communications Support/Troubleshooter, Digital and Business administration.


We still have another challenge to face with non-levy funding, in that the Agency launched a new tendering process for non-levy starts for funding from January 2018.   After changing the parameters of the tender right in the middle of the process, we will not know if we have been successful until December 2017!    However, with the support of our 2 prime contractors, we hope to meet the needs of all non-levy paying employers until all businesses are on the digital Apprenticeship Service, expected April 2019.

If you need any help accessing apprenticeship funding for your employees or to support recruitment, whether a levy payer or a small business, ITEC can help.  Contact Toni Marshall on 01268 286929 or  We can help or point you in the right direction to get further help!