Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock spoke today (2 June 2014) at the annual Association of Education Learning Providers (AELP) conference about the importance of the government’s apprenticeship reforms and how giving employer’s control of the design and funding of apprenticeships will help to drive up quality.
Matthew Hancock said:
For the first time, a new generation of young people are seeing apprenticeships as the route to a brighter future. Now is the time to reform the apprenticeship system in order to put it at the forefront of economic growth for years to come. Alongside universities, apprenticeships are the new norm for young people leaving school.
I also want apprenticeships to become the first choice for businesses and employers of all sizes. By driving up the rigour and responsiveness, we can prove their worth to these groups and encourage even more employers to take on an apprentice.
Apprenticeships will deliver higher quality across the board, skills relevant to the future and give everyone in the country the opportunity to realise their potential. I am calling for businesses to come alongside us and we can go forward together. The road ahead will not be easy, but for that goal, it is surely worth travelling.
The minister built on recent support for the principles of the funding reforms and set out how the system will be trialled with the Trailblazer employers in 2014 to 2015.
The first phase of the Apprenticeship Trailblazers began in October 2013, with groups of employers, large and small, working together to design new standards for apprenticeships in areas like Automotive, Aerospace and Financial Services. Their standards were agreed by the department and published during National Apprenticeship Week 2014. These Trailblazers are now going to trial the new apprenticeship funding system which means that for every £1 the business invests in apprenticeships, they will receive £2 of government funding up to a maximum amount, depending on the apprenticeship. This will mean that businesses and government will be investing together in the skills that our economy needs.
There will also be additional incentives for completion, for small businesses and for apprentices aged 16 to 18 years. This is a simple, fair system that will support employers to sit in the driving seat of the apprenticeships system in future.
During his speech, the minister also welcomed an employer toolkit which NIACE (National Institute of Adult Continuing Education) have designed to help more disabled people gain access to apprenticeships, and also help employers gain access to skilled and dedicated workers.
The toolkit was developed with the support of employers including Barclays Bank, Tottenham Hotspur FC, The National Theatre, Novartis PLC, Leicester City Council and Luton and Dunstable Hospital. The toolkit demonstrates the simple and cost-effective actions that employers can take, including around recruitment and ongoing support, to make their apprenticeship programmes open to disabled apprentices.