Silvia Lanza Castelli and Paul Grainger

There is a fundamental paradox, if not a contradiction, at the heart of apprenticeships. Apprentices sign on to be introduced to work and the skills they need for the future by those who may be steeped in the skills and practices of the past.

Even before the COVID Pandemic the world was changing rapidly through the impact of artificial intelligence. Some have described this as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which has brought new forms of employment (such as ‘gig’ workers hired through virtual platforms) and demands for new skills.

Obviously, the ability to manipulate data is one of these new skills but there are a host of others, including deeply human ones such as networking or creative design.

The COVID Pandemic has accelerated this process, and doubtless will continue to do so at breakneck speed as the economy adapts to new social paradigms. One only has to look at the improvements to virtual conferencing since March.

So where does this leave apprenticeships?

How can we improve the readiness of apprentices for a world fueled by data, navigating around wrecked supply chains? Globally, nations are reviewing their structures and processes for supporting transitions to work within the new economic and social arrangements.

In this article, we explore two approaches, within very different contexts, which may suggest ways forward those devising work based programmes.

We examine approaches to a digital future: one from the UK and the other from Argentina.

A UK approach to a digital future

Fashion Enter is a successful garment manufacturer and centre of excellence for skills development, based in London and Wales. The company has an extensive apprenticeship programme. In partnership with the University for Industry, and with UCL, it has recently developed digital resources for their extensive vocational and apprenticeship programme.

The company identified a need for digital resources that provide additional support and assessment for learners, as they grappled with the skills to work within a modern factory setting. They also wanted to attract a new generation of professional stitchers who are technical savvy and of the digital age.

Jenny Holloway, the CEO of Fashion Enter, firmly believes that you cannot be a designer, if you do not have technical skills. She says:

“Having spotted that gap in the market for technical skills and knowledge, resulted in us employing approximately 185 people. It's quite difficult that a designer who spent three, possibly four years, doing a degree to then respond to the technical challenges of a real manufacturing setting.

"The industry in general has been characterized by sweatshop factories, with those in production paid three pounds an hour, and we have this awful perception that we're all ‘Mike Baldwin from Coronation Street’.

"One of the problems we have is that it takes time to learn technical skills. If you are learning to dance, it will take you time and time again to become a proficient dancer. But digital and video resources supports the technical aspect of practice, a style of performance learning.

"In our company we now do virtual tours and they've been really well received. So I think we've really sort of tapped into a ‘treasure’ that we can do these exciting and new age videos that bring the learning for manufacturing into a completely different category.

"One thing that we've learned with the Fashion Technology Academy, which has been going since 2015,is that everyone learns differently; we’ve got kinaesthetic learners, we've got those that have impairments.

"By having a video they learn at their own time their own speed. They go backwards and they can really look at revisit this almost flipped learning. This isn't learning in a traditional sense. The students are taking ownership. The way in which we have cleverly composed the videos was like, you couldn't skip ahead. Students need to complete each stage by stage and really embed learning.”

An Argentinian approach to a digital future

In Cordoba, Argentina, the National Technological University (UTN) with the support of UNESCO Montevideo and the Argentine Ministry of Employment Promotion and Family Economy, is generating a complete program that may show the way.

It allows access to non-academic training schemes in new technologies and the dynamic context of the 4IR. This includes:

  • a Diploma of New Technologies, a 224 hour program validated through an exam;
  • Accessible Technologies for visual-disabled workers;
  • Program for the Elderly People, Digital Technological alphabetization,
  • an Integrar Program which develops students’ management skills and work on their emotional intelligence,
  • a CNH in-company program which students study while on an internship in the company; and
  • an ENLACE Y ANDEN program to development new technology-based ventures aimed at solving community problems in general.

The Sábato Triangle: Public and Private Sector and Universities

FEDERICO OLIVO ANEIROS, Industrial Engineer, MSc’s Degree in Business Administration- Secretary of University Extension and media relations and teacher at National Technological University (UTN) in Córdoba, Argentina

Federico Olivo Aneiros described the Argentine approach:

“Take up has been amazing, both from the private sector and regional government. This reflects the Latin American concept of the Sábato Triangle: public and private sector and universities. The private sector supports programs and projects that aim to reduce the gap between theory and practice, where the learning curve can be considerably reduced for the benefit of company knowledge.

"We maintain a connection with the industrial sector, from the internships that our students carry out in different companies, requesting profiles of our graduates according to their requirements while bringing continuous training and technological and knowledge transfer.

"The challenge is how to change the paradigm and train our workers in such a way that they can position themselves for the digital age and have access to quality, 21st Century jobs that will generate wealth and can boost the Argentine economy in the near future.

"We are adapting to current times. Education is always behind and following the new paradigms. The design of new ways of transferring knowledge and the contents and of new study programs aligns to the need to develop human capital. In the case of engineering, we have an advantage. Argentina today has a demand from the private sector that exceeds the market supply. The country needs to connect with the productive sector and develop science and technology to strengthen the productive matrix of our country. Countries no longer weigh their wealth only by their natural resources; they do so by developing the degree of knowledge that society has as a whole. New training courses must have and include the new technologies. We must be capable of transferring knowledge to society in every aspect referring to integrated innovation of knowledge production: technology for agriculture, software development, Industry 4.0, video game development.

"A.I. should not be seen as a threat, but as an opportunity. Some believe that technology will end the old jobs. This may be partially true, but through new technologies we can generate new jobs. Therefore, the real challenge will be to prepare people to join this knowledge revolution, without being left out of it. In some cases, it will be better to unlearn old concepts, in order to acquire new ones. This is not re-training, but rather a new way of teaching that is now upon us, where those who want to be trained demand a different role than before. The Greco-Roman training method is over; the one where everything the teacher said was fact. Nowadays everything is debated, education is more horizontal due to the degree of information that students carry. We are facing students who want to be protagonists, active in training, part of the knowledge, but aware, that information is not equivalent to knowledge. The knowledge economy has this challenge as its main objective, and that is to be able to generate a technological revolution with the incorporation of robotics, AI, IOT, 3D manufacturing, and to be able to achieve that, we need policies that encourage investment in this sector, with a transformation in the educational system. This should allow us to generate quality jobs, increase our GDP and enhance the economy of our country through knowledge.”

Fanny Montoya

Eng. Fanny Montoya: Information Systems Engineer – Testing & CI Advisor. Teacher - Researcher at Universidad Tecnológica Nacional - UTN FRC

Fanny Montoya is a coordinator at PGDip in Software Testing. She describes her experiences in a successful training scheme, principally in IT, and especially in Software development and testing. She tells us about the successful results in Software Quality Assurance (QA) Profile training.

Students with this qualification progress to outstanding positions in several companies of the Córdoba technology cluster where they are encouraged to develop their engineering careers.

In 2020, there was an agreement between the software companies and the Córdoba government to generate a program called CLIP whose objective is training in new technologies for the next job opportunity in companies that enroll in this program. The companies agree to hire those who follow the course.

Collaboration across institutions and a global view of apprenticeships schemes are key to effective success.

It is important to generate spaces for frequent discussions between countries that encourage the sharing of experiences with initiatives that support and involve companies to offer high-quality work-based learning.

The old learning methodologies are obsolete with regard to younger generations even if they are executed in technological platforms. Learning is not looking for information by clicking, but building a new knowledge process, to learn by doing.

The ways of learning, training and being part of the production of knowledge is collaborative and requires an active and critical role in the learning process.

Those who design training schemes must do so with real practical application, increasing the integration in an incremental way in production processes and teamwork.

Work-based learning, as recognized by the OECD, is often seen as a powerful vehicle for developing workplace skills and promoting productivity of the labour force1.

The development of apprenticeship systems creates significant challenges: engaging employers to provide work placements; making apprenticeship attractive to young people who might otherwise pursue academic studies, and in delivering skills that are both immediately valuable but also support future career development. 2

It is important to look beyond the paradigms of training and work. Technical and Vocational Education and Training should establish a clear link between the learning environment and the work environment. 3

Any program seeking to prepare students for new jobs in a sector, involving new technologies and software, must focus on developing skills and new competences by creating spaces for professional training within an employment context. It is important to encourage and collaboration across different stakeholders, whether from the public or private sector, to generate new vocational learning networks.

Sil Lanza Castelli, National Technological University, Julia Jeanes, UCL, and Paul Grainger UCL


  1. “Work-based learning and productivity”, OECD Better policies for better lives. Last update 05-OCT-2020
  2. “Strengthening incentives and implementation for apprenticeships, ”, OECD Better policies for better lives. 05-OCT-2020.
  3. Supporting innovation for recovery”, FE News. P.Grainger&S.Lanza Castelli. 27-05-2020

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Cathy Pearson🦓💙 had a status update on Twitter 2 hours 30 minutes ago

@drjanaway I'm just so glad you can be there for that patient: they are lucky to have you. Sending cyber coffee and good biscuits!
View Original Tweet

AELP Webinar Team added a new event 16 hours

Recognising and supporting learners who are at risk of, or...

Overview This webinar is intended to explain the nature of harm and abuse caused to learners who may be at risk of, or have experienced sexual...

  • Wednesday, 06 October 2021 10:00 AM
  • Online

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page