Elliot Gowans, VP EMEA & LATAM, D2L

Recently it was announced that the number of apprenticeships in the UK fell by 24 percent in the first six months of the academic year. Indeed, official figures from the Department of Education revealed that between August 2017 and January 2018 there were 206,100 apprenticeship starts compared to 269,600 at the same time the year before.

Created a year ago, the Apprenticeship Levy scheme aimed to create three million apprenticeships by 2020, however businesses are failing to rely on the levy to take on apprenticeships, with many businesses finding the scheme complex, rigid and uncompromising.

Why are apprenticeships so important?

A blend of education and work-based training, apprenticeships are incredibly important as they are perfectly placed to reliably build marketable skills and bridge skills gaps in the UK workforce. They combine on-the-job experience with the chance to gain qualifications and develop vocational skills. In the 2015/16 academic year, 899,400 people participated in apprenticeship schemes in the UK, the highest number on record according to the Department for Education.

The apprentice levy imposes a levy of 0.5 percent of annual payroll on UK employers with an annual pay bill of over £3 million. Participating employers can set up accounts through the digital apprenticeship service to access funds to pay for apprenticeship schemes. In theory, these government schemes are an ideal opportunity to develop courses that meet the needs of employers, educators and apprentices today.

It is undoubtedly a considerable incentive for employers to get benefit back from what they pay in. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the government and employers want to see the initiatives deliver, not only in terms of numbers but also in terms of highly trained apprentices with the skills that businesses need. With this in mind, it’s crucial that government reforms address these issues as quickly as possible.

Modernising apprenticeship schemes

The levy is also raising the topic of apprenticeships in general, and what else is needed to ensure they are a success. For businesses that are taking advantage of the levy, there’s a lot of responsibility on their shoulders to deliver an engaging, worthwhile apprenticeship that translates to business results.

For example, in order to attract and retain apprentices, businesses need to ensure they are shifting away from the traditional way of learning. They need to deliver training via digital tools that people are increasingly identifying with. The modern-day workforce want to use and hone their digital skills, and will assume that employers will recognise this and have tools in place that will enable them to make full use of their expertise. It’s key that businesses are exploiting technologies available that can help accommodate and advance the future generation of workers’ skills now.

Three key attributes that help businesses deliver an exceptional on-the-go learning experience for today’s apprenticeships include:

  1. Ease of access – apprentices often split their time across their place of study, such as a university or college, and the workplace. They also study in their own time, at home or elsewhere. Digital learning tools are the cornerstone of easy access to course content and information whenever and wherever apprentices need to engage in their studies.
  2. Adaptive learning – apprentices have a varied profile; they come from different backgrounds and embark on their training with differing starting points of knowledge. They all learn at different rates, require varying levels of support and respond individually to a range of teaching styles. For these, and many other reasons, it’s important that each student’s chance of success is maximised through personalised learning paths that adapt according to each apprentice’s progress and needs. This supports learning at an individual pace, which not only results in a higher likelihood of success, but also delivers a more rewarding learning experience.
  3. Outcomes-based learning – within a given timeframe for a period of study, students will progress at different rates. The goal is the outcome, so the most effective approach is to set the right targets and generate optimal learning paths to get learners there. Within this, some apprentices will need to spend more time on topics than others; they may even need to dive into additional material to plug a knowledge gap before they can move on. E-learning can support this adaptable content delivery ¾ or competency-based education (CBE). Not only that, but through tracking and learning analytics it can also provide insights into student progress and predicted outcomes. Armed with this knowledge, course tutors can put in place proactive measures to keep learners on track.

As the government works with businesses to urgently reform the levy to make it workable, it’s important that businesses also look at ways they can ensure apprenticeships are a success. As demands and pressures on apprenticeship schemes continue to grow, it’s key that companies recognise the important role technology plays in helping educational institutions and employers maximise the benefit of upskilling future generations with the skills demanded by modern business.

Elliot Gowans, VP EMEA & LATAM, D2L

You may also be interested in these articles:

#VirtualCoffee with David Gallagher on the future of education, skills and employability

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 2 hours 6 minutes ago

#VirtualCoffee with David Gallagher and Gavin |...

#VirtualCoffee with David Gallagher and Gavin | 3rd Aug

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