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Government Publish ‘Future of Apprenticeships in England’ Plan

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced a raft of new measures designed to raise apprenticeship standards whilst visiting the Mini factory in Oxford.

Amongst the changes is the decision to grade apprenticeships at either a pass, merit or distinction, which should allow employers to gain a clearer understanding of the level of achievement attained by the apprentice, as well as the introduction of more rigorous assessments at the end of the apprenticeship.  There is also a commitment to strengthen the maths and English components of the frameworks, with all Intermediate apprentices required to be working towards a level 2 qualification, equivalent to a good GCSE, alongside the instruction that at least 20% of an apprentice’s time should be spent training ‘off the job’ or away from the workplace.

The announcement and accompanying Implementation Plan & Guidance for Trailblazers documents follow an official consultation on the future of apprenticeships, which was launched in response to the recommendations of Doug Richard in his review last year. At the heart of his proposals was a desire to give employer’s more involvement in the design and delivery of apprenticeships, something Mr Cameron referred to with his statement that ‘the reforms… will put employers in the driving seat.’

Commenting on the changes, IQ Chief Executive Raymond Clarke said, ‘It is great to see the Government committing to the development of more rigorous apprenticeships and the raising of standards. There must be a recognition, however, that simply making the frameworks more challenging is not going to be the answer to the needs of all sectors; the service sector, for example, provides a valuable route into employment but has so far struggled to make the current apprenticeship format work.’

The new format apprenticeships will be introduced from the end of 2014 and will coexist with current frameworks for a time, with a gradual transition planned so that by 2017/18 all funding will have moved to the new frameworks.

With a long history of British governments pledging to place employers at the heart of vocational education development since the 1980's, however, it remains to be seen whether these reforms will be supported for the long term. If we can see consistent government support and allow initiatives like these to blossom, then perhaps we can attain the world class apprenticeships that we so sorely need.

Oct 29, 2013 03:55 PM