As part of the UK government’s Apprenticeship Reforms, designed to rethink the way apprenticeships are delivered and help generate additional funding, apprenticeship qualifications have been redesigned, allowing groups of employers known as ‘Trailblazers’ to play a lead role in their development.

The trailblazers are drawn from a diverse range of business backgrounds, so they know how reforming the system of apprenticeships can provide positive benefits for employers but also for the apprentices themselves.  

Known as apprenticeship ‘Standards’, these new employer-led qualifications are more streamlined and smarter than the previous ‘Frameworks’ and can be tailored to the individual apprentice’s specific duties in the workplace.  

This means employers now have control over what core skills, knowledge, and behaviours an apprentice will need to develop within their job role and can help businesses build a continued skills pipeline to evolve talent. 

This is especially important while the UK has massive skills gaps following the effects of Brexit, where a great many EU citizens left to go back to their countries of origin, taking their skills with them. The pandemic also caused major problems with many people leaving their jobs in a pattern that has become known globally as “The Great Resignation”. 85% of UK businesses said that the Great Resignation had a negative effect on their business.

Apprenticeships are seen as a way of filling those skills gaps by training apprentices to the appropriate level to fill them and regain a sense of stability in workplaces around the country which have been struggling due to not having enough fully trained staff. 

Aimed at increasing the quality of delivery by ensuring apprenticeships are robust and relevant to the job role, these new occupation-focused qualifications are being developed for apprentices starting at level 2 (Intermediate) right the way up to level 7 (PhD-Level).

The academic portions of the apprenticeships are a key component and the qualifications on offer to the apprentice offer a great balance between earning and learning so that they can make the most of the opportunities in front of them in their chosen field. 

The new apprenticeship standards focus on assessing the apprentice at the end of their qualification when they are expected to be most competent. This allows the apprentices to absorb information during the off-the-job training portion of their apprenticeship, which makes up 20% and experience in doing the job in the other 80% which is on-the-job training. 

The apprenticeship concludes with a new ‘End-Point-Assessment’ (EPA) exam, which encourages the apprentice to showcase their knowledge and newfound confidence built up throughout their experiences within your organisation. The EPA ensures that all apprentices who complete a certain apprenticeship standard have the necessary skills to fulfil the job role to a satisfactory standard, whether at the employer they apprenticed at or any other in their field.  

Levy-paying employers can also apply to be an ‘employer-provider’ and directly deliver training to their workforce or those of affiliated companies, by using the apprenticeship service to pay for training without the need to involve an external training provider. If your organisation would like to register as an apprenticeship training provider, check your eligibility before you apply.

Frameworks vs Standards: What’s the Difference?

There are plenty of differences between the old apprenticeship ‘Frameworks’ and the new ‘Standards’:

  • Unlike previous frameworks, the apprentice is required to sit an ‘End-Point-Assessment’ (or EPA) where an independent assessor will assess the individual apprentice based on the criteria laid out in the apprenticeship standard.
  • Apprentices are now graded based on their knowledge and performance in the EPA. Each course will have its own grading systems and boundaries.
  • The employer determines an apprentice’s level of competence and portfolios are no longer assessed through the apprenticeship; training provider assessors are now more akin to mentors or tutors providing support throughout.
  • ICT is no longer a requirement to complete an apprenticeship. English and Maths at minimum level 2 are still required, but employers now have the opportunity to choose where this is delivered without having to go through the same provider.

From 1 August 2020, all new apprentices will start their apprenticeship on standards, and the framework model will no longer be available. There are currently over 573 apprenticeship standards approved for delivery with a further 111 in development.

To find out more about what standards are available to deliver now or are soon to be, visit the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA) website where you can search for more information on those that are approved for delivery or in development.

So, if your business has avoided offering an apprenticeship programme due to the lack of a suitable framework, now is the time to investigate new apprenticeship standards to see if there is now one that fits your requirements.

Find out more information on the benefits of recruiting an apprentice and how it can grow your business and help reach its potential!