Government announces new apprenticeship trailblazers

The Prime Minister today announced 29 new trailblazer groups to lead the transformation of the apprenticeship system.

The new trailblazers, covering areas such as health, law, media , hospitality and tourism, are made up of more than 340 employers including John Lewis, BA and BMW.

The health trailblazer means it could soon be possible to train as a nurse through an apprenticeship.

The first phase of trailblazers, groups of employers from the same sector tasked with designing and developing the new standards for the reformed apprenticeships, began in October.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: “I am delighted that the first phase of trailblazers continues to be such a success and that leading employers in so many sectors can see the benefit of shaping apprenticeships in their area. I would like to thank them for their commitment and look forward to the first delivery of these new employer-led apprenticeships in 2014/15.”

“We want to see apprenticeships become the new norm for all ambitious young people, and for employers who are dedicated to growing their own talent and increasing the skills base of the nation. These trailblazers are helping to make this a reality.”

The government has published the first 11 standards for apprenticeships in the aerospace, mechatronics, digital industries, automotive, electrotechnical and financial services sectors.

Standards for energy and utilities, food and drink, and life and industrial sciences sectors were also published.

David Lynch, head of engineering at GSK, which was part of the first trailblazer phase, said: “The trailblazer initiative has given GSK the confidence to continue to invest heavily in both the quality and quantity of our higher apprenticeships.

“Rapidly evolving technologies across our industry require our people to be equipped with new hi-tech skills and capabilities if we are to compete in the global economy.

“Now through trailblazers we have been able to prioritise and direct specific skills training critical to our business success and at the same time support young people to develop and build towards sustainable graduate careers through our higher apprenticeships.”

However, John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) warned that smaller companies shouldn’t be left out.

“The FSB welcomes putting the design of apprenticeships back into the hand of employers,” he said.

“To ensure they work for the smallest companies they must be involved in their development.

“We therefore want to see all draft apprenticeship standards undergo a full online public consultation with enough time for small businesses to contribute.”

He added that the consultation needed to be well communicated, and urged the government to be innovative in using technology and social media to engage small businesses.