From education to employment

Getting apprenticeship reforms right

Reforms to apprenticeships mean new trailblazer standards, a new end-point assessment regime, a new funding model, and an apprenticeship levy on large companies. On top of this, the Government has set a challenging 3 million apprenticeships target. Getting this right is not a simple matter of the right information, though that clearly helps. It is also about skills in teaching, planning, working with employers, and leading change. What tailored professional development does the sector need to deliver?

For eighteen months, the Education and Training Foundation’s Apprenticeship Staff Support Programme (ASSP) supported around 6000 staff in the sector, and 60% of apprenticeship providers. ASSP produced over 150 resources, developed by practitioners for their peers, focused on strengthening their professional practice in vocational teaching and learning and building effective working links with employers.

ASSP provided a solid foundation for future apprenticeship growth, but there is more to do. From our workforce data, we estimate around 40,000 staff in the sector are currently involved in apprenticeship delivery. Reaching the target of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, will mean more vocational teachers and trainers getting involved in working with apprentices – delivering first class off-the-job training, supporting apprentices’ learning at work, and helping them connect their practical and theoretical learning. Helping teachers and trainers to develop the confidence and know-how to do this effectively is a key task for our new Future Apprenticeships programme.

Historically, the further education sector has tried to engage employers on its own terms, or employers have tried to engage the sector on their terms. But the old supply and demand paradigm is not fit for a reformed apprenticeship landscape. Investing in long-term partnerships with employers opens up possibilities for new learning and new business. By working closely with apprentices and their employers, teachers and trainers have opportunities to update their expertise. In so doing, we know they can then co-design training and development with employers so that it keeps up to date with changes in technology, work practices and economic conditions. Together, employers and providers can drive effective technical and professional education which helps individuals and organisations to grow and succeed.

Over the next few months, the Future Apprenticeships programme will support providers to:

• prepare to deliver the new apprenticeship standards – through support for curriculum development and teaching, learning and assessment strategies;

• further develop their employer engagement – to strengthen and sustain two-way street relationships between employers and providers;

• enable leaders and those involved in governance to understand the implications of the reforms and grow apprenticeships.

An intensive programme of workshops, webinars and tailored support is available, in the first instance, between now and the end of March. The first workshops and webinar running this week have proved very popular, so if you are interested in taking advantage of the support available, the Foundation’s advice is to book early.

Webinars for leaders will take place on 15 December and 13 January and can be booked via the Foundation’s ELMAG portal.
Eight workshops in January will offer support to smaller providers preparing to deliver the new apprenticeship standards and can be booked via the Foundation’s website.

Workshops on employer engagement and support for large providers are also available, with details on the Foundation’s website.

From January to March, the programme will also offer:

• Embedding English and Maths workshops to support staff in teaching English and Maths in the context of the new apprenticeship standards.

• Workshops for leaders and governors on the implications of the reforms and the leadership challenges of planning for growth.

• Opportunities for regionally-based dialogue to explore solutions to specific regional and sectoral challenges.

• Vocationally-specific provider readiness groups developing advice on the delivery of new standards.

A new Future Apprenticeships portal will be available in the New Year which will provide access to a range of resources and materials to support staff, including early learning about the new assessment regime for trailblazer apprenticeships, and also include wider information on the apprenticeship reforms.

The Foundation is committed to support the professional development of staff in the sector to realise the potential of apprenticeships for employers and apprentices. Building on our work on professional standards and the distinctive features of effective vocational pedagogy set out in Sir Frank McLoughlin’s report, we will continue to work with professionals to support their continuing development in order to further improve the quality and outcomes from vocational learning.

Future Apprenticeships is delivered by AELP with partners AoC, 157 Group, HOLEX, FISSS, NIACE and UCL Institute of Education.

Jenny Williams is director of vocational education and training at the Education and Training Foundation

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