With the rise in university and further education costs and employability statistics making headline news – apprenticeships are rapidly growing in popularity. But should your business offer an apprenticeship programme, and if you do, will your apprentices actually have the right skills to carry out their job?
Currently, there are two types of apprenticeships:
(Old) Apprenticeship frameworks
A series of work-related vocational and professional qualifications, with workplace and classroom-based training. This type of apprenticeship is primarily qualification-focussed with a view to the apprentice achieving both a competency-based and a technical qualification. Apprentices are assessed throughout their apprenticeship and there is no overall assessment at the end.
(New) Apprenticeship standards
Developed by employer groups known as ‘Trailblazers’, each standard covers a specific occupation and sets out the core skills, knowledge and behaviours an apprentice will need. Standards are occupation-focussed, not qualification-led, and the apprentice is assessed at the end of their training. Current apprenticeship standards include hairdressing, accounting, retail management, manufacturing, events assistants and many more.
Whilst many listed frameworks continue to be valid and will be used by apprenticeship programmes for the next few years, all apprenticeship frameworks will be replaced by 2020.
Apprenticeship standards are intended to raise the quality of apprenticeships by ensuring employers (known as Trailblazers) are involved in the development of the standards so that they are related to what is needed in the workforce and detail the skills that the apprentice will need to develop. Professional bodies, Training Providers, Awarding/Assessment organisations and SSCs are also involved in the Trailblazer Groups that set these standards.
Just one or two pages long, the new apprenticeship standards concisely describe the level of knowledge, skill and behaviours required to do a particular role well and outline at least 12 months of training required to meet the standard. They also include assessment criteria and relevant qualifications.
So, if previously you have avoided implementing an apprenticeship programme on the basis that there isn’t an appropriate framework for your business, now is the time to investigate apprenticeship standards to see if one has been developed that suits your needs. And if you identify the need for a new apprenticeship standard, it might make sense to join a Trailblazer Group to develop the standard for occupations within your specific field of business. (Although please note that joining a group requires significant commitment from employers.)
For more on how to become a Trailblazer and what’s involved – download the Apprenticeship Starter Pack and check the ‘Further Reading List’ for details along with other useful information