Changing face of apprenticeships

apprenticeships-webIn 3 months in 2013, almost 40,000 apprenticeships were advertised.  Traineeships were launched.  We also saw the government’s response to the Richards’ review and the implementation plan for the future of apprenticeships in England.  To experts in the sector, these changes may be well known, but I think more widely they are not, but they are really quite significant.  With the University of Bedfordshire this week, I attended a meeting with People 1st – the sector skills council for hospitality, travel, tourism and retail – who explained more.

From 2017, apprenticeships will be changing – they will have to be:

  • Based on standards agreed by employers describing the skills, knowledge and competency for a job role and ensuring transferability
  • These standards will be brief and there will only be one set for each job role in each sector – these will replace the existing frameworks
  • Assessment will continue and will include grading but qualifications are no longer a requirement
  • All apprenticeships will be a minimum of 12 months and must include 20% off the job training – a job that does not require sustained and substantial training will not be appropriate for an apprenticeship
  • To complete an apprenticeship, a level 2 in Maths and English must be achieved
  • Trailblazers are being agreed by government to develop the new standards with employers – round 1 is underway with 8 sector groups and rounds 2 and 3 are being worked up with employer groups at present on behalf of each sector
  • Although consultation is ongoing on the precise methods, the purchasing power for investing in training will lie with the employer possibly through the tax system

The new proposals seem to address many of previous concerns around subsidy being drawn down by employers to fill seasonal and low skilled roles with very little training being delivered.  The step up in quality is welcomed by employers and employees, as well as potential apprentices alike but there are some questions from this briefing:

  • How will employers engage with this agenda?  How can a standard that is relevant to all employers in a sector be set by one or more of them?  How will relevance to small businesses be ensured?
  • How will it affect the progression of people into lower skilled jobs that could have attracted a lower level apprenticeship under the existing system but won’t in future – as the job does not require 12 months training to achieve competency?
  • With the funding put in the hands of the employers, how will training providers engage employers to offer to deliver the learning?
  • Will the bureaucracy be off putting to businesses that are currently removed from some of it by the training providers?
  • With a move to this new system, all existing frameworks will remain static until new ones are introduced.  How will this impact on engagement?

It will be really interesting to see how this unfolds in the Trailblazers work underway.  Watch this space for further updates and tell us about the impact that you think it could make.

Best wishes for Friday