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Jamie Lawrence


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News: employers to design their own apprenticeships


Employers will soon have the power to design and develop their own Apprenticeship standards in order to tackle skills shortages, announced Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg today.

This initiative is in response to the Richard Review, carried out by entrepreneur Doug Richard last year, which called for an improvement in the quality of apprenticeships. Richard also said that apprenticeships should focus on the needs of employers – some employers labelled unsuitability for their requirements as the greatest barrier to taking on apprentices.

The Government has outlined its plan to re-imagine apprenticeships and this initiative is one of several, which include:

  • Apprenticeships to be focused on the outcome, clearly setting out what the apprentices should know and be able to do by the end of their apprenticeship
  • Apprenticeships will move to a final holistic test which has confidence from employers
  • From 2014, apprentices will work towards a Level 2 qualification either through GCSEs or functional skills in English and maths
  • All apprenticeships should be tailored towards a skilled job which involves substantial new learning and a springboard for progression

The changes are at the consultation stage, which runs until May 22. Responses and comments can be given online or via

Speaking at White Light, an entertainment lighting specialist company that is tailoring its Apprenticeships to its needs, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“Apprenticeships are at the heart of our drive for a stronger economy, equipping people of all ages with the skills employers need to prosper and compete, often in a global market. They give hard-working young people the chance to aim high for their dream job.

“Most employers say that apprentices improve productivity. So it’s vital that Apprenticeships are tailored around what employers want, allowing them to design their own qualifications and choose their own training provider, rather than getting a one-size-fits-all programme that’s bad for apprentices and bad for employers.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable added: “When I travel around the country, businesses frequently tell me that if they are not able to respond quickly to skills shortages they lose out on vital business.

“These plans will radically change the way we deliver Apprenticeships. They will put employers in the driving seat so they can develop the workforce they need to grow their business.”

Responding to the announcement, Telefonica UK HR Director Ann Pickering said: “The Government’s response to the Richard Review is a reminder to businesses of the important role that they need to play in raising the benchmark for apprenticeships in England. The debate should never just be about numbers. High quality apprenticeships are one of the most valuable ways to help young people into work and create a workforce fit for the future.

“The opportunity cost of not acting is simply unthinkable. The growing digital economy creates huge opportunity, but to grasp that opportunity and enable the UK to compete on a global level, businesses of all sizes must commit to supporting young people on their journey to work. Thousands of British youngsters already possess valuable digital skills, provided with the right package of training and support these digital natives can help the UK economy meet the future skills requirements of a truly digital world.”

Employer-led apprenticeships are a great way for businesses to get precisely what they need for growth out of the scheme, while also giving back skills that will be useful throughout an apprentice’s career. But there’ll also be a research and administrative burden – employers will need to make sure they allocate the resources necessary to produce a strong apprentice scheme, and then follow it up with an aggressive recruitment campaign to ensure they attract top calibre applicants.

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Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence