From education to employment

David Way, National Director of Apprenticeships at LSC, writes for FE News.

The Government recently highlighted the central role it sees for Apprenticeships in achieving its economic and skills ambitions. Here David Way, National Director of Apprenticeships at the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) talks about how the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) will help to deliver these ambitions and grow the number of Apprenticeships to at least 250,000 by 2020.

On 28 January, the Government published “World-class Apprenticeships: Unlocking Talent, Building Skills”, its review of the current Apprenticeship system. The resulting report recognises the very positive improvements in the scope and quality of Apprenticeships but also sets out a much greater ambition for the future. It expresses the benefits of Apprenticeships for the economy in lifting business skills and productivity; but also for individuals and society. The reference to getting in and on at work was especially strong.

The report signals something much more than incremental change. In future, Apprenticeships will become a major routeway for young people with 1 in 5 taking up an Apprenticeship. This will mean ensuring that young people and those who support and advise them in their choices get to know far more about Apprenticeships than they have in the past. The Review sets out the responsibilities on careers advisors to ensure this happens and gives the NAS an important proactive supporting role.

Other notable messages in the report include the importance of broad based apprenticeship training for adults at key stages in their lives. This reflects real life experience of more flexible working where people move between sectors; or people return to the labour market after time away raising a family or caring for elderly parents. Apprenticeship training can be equally as relevant for adults in these circumstances as for young people.

The report called for the creation of a National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) which will be focused on taking Apprenticeships to the next level. The streamlined customer-facing service, which the NAS will provide, will be designed to meet the needs and expectations of learners, providers and employers and will have end-to-end responsibility for the entire programme.

The NAS will be responsible for delivering the Government’s Apprenticeship policy along with co-ordinating the funding of all Apprenticeship places. The report says the NAS will be formed as a separate and distinct service within the LSC. The director will be appointed jointly by DIUS, DCSF and the LSC and recruitment is already underway.

In establishing the NAS, we will work closely with employers, learners and providers. A top priority would be to boost the number of Apprenticeships offered by employers. We know that young people respond very positively to good Apprenticeship opportunities. We will work with learners to help bridge the social and attitudinal gap between school and an Apprenticeship. We know young people are often taking a very big step to join the workforce and leave behind their peers at school and college. We want to work closely with learners to ensure that they are fully supported during this transition and able to make the most of the opportunities an Apprenticeship offers.

The NAS will also introduce services which will enhance the whole Apprenticeship experience. The Vacancy Matching Service (VMS) will provide readily accessible information about the Apprenticeships available and how to apply for them. It will give access to web-based materials explaining to young-people, parents and advisors what being an apprentice in all the main sectors is really like. The VMS is being piloted at the moment and will roll out nationally later this year.

The future for Apprenticeships is exciting. The challenges are great but we have a strong base on which to build. World-class Apprenticeships will provide our action plan. However many people have already told me how we can build on this further so that we can make the full transformation needed. In Apprenticeship Week, we will see and hear from many successful apprentices who remind us why this is such an important prize for us all.

Related Articles