Press release

Employers in the driving seat for reformed apprenticeships

The Prime Minister will unveil improved apprenticeships, with greater quality for the learner and ease of use for employers.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Improved apprenticeships, which will bring greater focus on quality for the learner and ease of use for employers, will be unveiled by the Prime Minister at the MINI Plant Oxford today (28 October 2013).

Under the reforms, employers will be put in the driving seat to create new apprenticeship standards that will deliver the skills businesses and learners need to compete in the global race.

Groups of companies, including BMW Group UK, have come together to give industry the power to lead the design of these new apprenticeships. More than 60 companies who took on more than 13,000 apprenticeship starts in 2011 to 2012 are involved in these groups, which are known as Trailblazers.

The reformed apprenticeships will be:

  • employer-led and designed so they respond to the needs of industry, meaning each apprentice has the skills required by the sector
  • focused on quality so the apprentice has to demonstrate their ability through rigorous assessment at the end of their apprenticeship
  • graded on completion – pass, merit, or distinction – to mark the level of achievement

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

If you want an apprenticeship, we’re going to make sure you do the best apprenticeship in the world. The reforms we’re announcing today will put employers in the driving seat and ensure that we deliver rigorous training that supports you and our economy for years to come.

Eight Trailblazers will represent a broad spectrum of businesses from a range of different sectors; aerospace, automotive, digital industries, electro-technical, energy, financial services, food and drink, and life and industrial sciences. Their participation will mean that apprenticeships are firmly driven by those who deliver and use them.

Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said:

We asked Doug Richard to review the Apprenticeship system and tell us what was needed to make the British system a world leader. Our reforms will do just that and I am pleased to welcome industry leaders as Trailblazers to make the new system a reality.

Our aim is that the new apprenticeships will focus squarely on rigorous training for learners and simplicity of use for employers. This will mean that our apprenticeship system will respond to the needs of the modern economy.

Being involved in the Trailblazers will give employers and professional bodies the opportunity to develop the new apprenticeship standards for occupations in their sector. These will become the industry standard for any apprenticeship in that occupation.

New apprentices can expect to take part in reformed apprenticeships as early as the end of 2014.

Dr Frank Bachmann, Managing Director of MINI Plant Oxford said:

As a major employer of apprentices, BMW Group is supporting this important skills initiative which is designed to develop the first apprenticeship standards across many industrial sectors including automotive. We’re delighted to host and help launch this new government programme.

Notes to editors

  1. A full version of the reform implementation document and a list of the companies currently involved in the Trailblazers programme is available on the updated apprenticeships consultation page.

  2. The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

Published 28 October 2013