Entrepreneur and educator Doug Richard has published his independent report on the future of apprenticeships. A successful entrepreneur with 20 year’s experience in the development and leadership of technology and software ventures, Doug was selected in June 2012 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education to lead an independent review into the future of apprenticeships for the Government. His remit was to look at how to build upon the record success of recent years by:

  • Ensuring that apprenticeships meet the needs of the changing economy
  • Ensuring every apprenticeship delivers high quality training and the qualifications and skills that employers need
  • Maximising the impact of Government investment

In his report, Doug stresses that the different elements contained within his recommendations must be taken collectively saying “they are interlinked and the system will only make sense and be deliverable if all the elements are adopted as a whole.”

Richard’s recommendations are:

1. Apprenticeships should be redefined.

They should be clearly targeted at those who are new to a job or role that requires sustained and substantial training. Training and accreditation of existing workers that are already fully competent in their jobs should be delivered separately; as should provision aimed primarily at supporting entry into employment. The Government should introduce a new separate work-based programme to support entry into employment. This should replace some Level 2 apprenticeships.

2. The focus of apprenticeships should be on the outcome.

There should be recognised industry standards at the heart of every apprenticeship. They should clearly set out what apprentices should know, and be able to do, at the end of their apprenticeship, at a high level which is meaningful and relevant for employers. These standards should form the basis of new apprenticeship qualifications, which replace apprenticeship frameworks, the current qualifications which comprise them and the current national occupational standards which underpin them. There should be just one apprenticeship qualification for each occupation associated with an apprenticeship. They should link to standards for professional registration in sectors where these exist and are well-recognised.

 3. The Government should set up a contest for the best qualification.

Individual employers, employer partnerships or other organisations with the relevant expertise should be invited to design and develop apprenticeship qualifications for their sectors. The selection of the ‘best’ qualification for an occupation should be based on Government-set criteria for identifying whatgood looks like. The criteria should ensure the qualification is ambitious and stretching, delivers transferrable skills and has significant buy-in amongst employers, including small ones.

 4. The testing and validation process should be independent and genuinely respected by industry.

The test should be holistic, at the end, and assess whether the individual is fully competent and employable, within their job and their sector. Employers should be directly involved in assessment. They must make sure that the assessment consistently tests apprentices to the standard specified in the qualification. Assessors should be entirely independent and have no incentive or disincentive related to the outcome of the assessment. The Government, a government body or regulator should approve and oversee the assessment process, or the organisations in charge of that process, in a light touch way.

5. All apprentices should have achieved Level 2 in English and maths before they can complete their apprenticeship.

Maths and English taught within apprenticeships should be sufficiently functional in approach to be suitable for an apprenticeship context.

6. The Government should encourage diversity and innovation in delivering apprenticeships.

There will be many paths and approaches that an apprentice can take to reach ‘the standard’ and we should strip out any unnecessary prescription and regulation of the process for getting there.

7. The Government has a role in promoting good quality delivery.

To maximise value for learners and minimise risk of poor practice, Government should make some off-site learning and a minimum duration for apprenticeships mandatory. Government should ensure that an effective, light-touch approval process exists to confirm training organisations are providing good quality training, relevant for the sector.

8.  Government funding must create the right incentives for apprenticeship training.

The purchasing power for investing in apprenticeship training should lie with the employer. Government should contribute to the cost, but this should be routed via the employer, in order to ensure relevance and drive up quality. The price should be free to respond to and reflect employer demand. Government should only contribute to the cost of training that supports the apprentice in reaching the industry-agreed standard. The payment should be linked, in part, to the apprentice passing the test. A preferred approach would be to fund apprenticeships using the National Insurance or tax system – for example through a tax credit, similar to the R&D tax credit. The funding system should be kept simple and accessible, including for small firms.

9. Learners and employers need access to good quality information.

Relevant government data should be made open and accessible in simple language and formats, so that companies can connect it together to generate products that present data in meaningful, innovative and accessible ways. The Government, through its own communication channels and careers advice services, should ensure that information about apprenticeships and their benefits is effectively and widely disseminated.

10. Government must actively boost awareness of the new apprenticeship model.

Boosting learner and employer demand is an active responsibility of Government. Government should take an education based approach to this – enabling a wider range of employers to learn how to take on apprentices and why it’s worthwhile. New ways to bring employers and prospective learners together should be promoted, including through an ‘apprenticeship milk round’. More effort should be made to ensure that schools and teachers, parents and all those who inform and guide young people have a better understanding of what a high quality apprenticeship can offer.

  • Download the full report summary here

Industry Forum have been involved with SEMTA in the development of Apprenticeship frameworks to improve operational performance through operations and quality improvement.

For more information please contact Ross McFarlane, Sector Manager – Learning & Development on 07977 577120.

Leave a Reply