26 new Trailblazer groups announced

26 new Trailblazer groups announced

Film and TV, ceramics, veterinary nursing, and motorcycle manufacturing are among the industries that will be covered by 26 new Trailblazer apprenticeship groups launched today.

The new groups, which will design standards for 39 new, industry-led apprenticeship programmes, will include representatives from Pinewood Studios, Rolls Royce, BT, Dr Martens, and English National Opera.

The new standards will add to 24 that have already been cleared for use and more than 350 currently in development by more than 140 existing Trailblazer groups.

It comes as the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) also revealed today that from August 27 there will be deadlines at midday on the final Thursday of every month for groups to express an interest in starting Trailblazers for new sectors.

Pinewood Studios director Andrew Smith is among those who will participate in one of the new Trailblazers, which will be for film and TV.

He said: “Young people are the future leaders of tomorrow’s industry and being part of the Trailblazers means we can guarantee they have the essential skills and training.

“The apprenticeships we create will be a key route for new entrants into the industry and will set them on course for a fun, challenging but ultimately rewarding career.”

However, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) raised concern with FE Week today that there were still not enough small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) getting involved with Trailblazers.

Stewart Segal, AELP chief executive, said that his organisation had “always supported” the involvement of employers of all sizes in the programme.

But, he said: “It is clear that it has been difficult to keep SMEs engaged in the process and more and more employers are recommending an overall governance structure to manage the process.

“All stakeholders, including employers need to be involved in that process.”

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “Our Trailblazer programme allows employers across the country to have their say in training tomorrow’s workforce, helping us achieve 3m apprenticeships by 2020.”

Teresa Frith, Association of Colleges senior skills policy manager, said the expanded Trailblazer list meant “more opportunities for young people”.

She said: “Colleges are already working closely with local employers to make sure they are training young people with the skills these employers need.

“We must ensure that all apprentices are trained to work in the wider industry, rather than just for a specific employer.

“Whilst it is good to see the number of apprenticeships increasing, the Government must ensure that the quality doesn’t suffer.”

It was also announced by BIS today that four existing Trailblazer groups have also been tasked with creating new standards for their industries — with, for example, the video games group developing one for community coordinator/associate community managers, and the financial services group producing a standard for advanced credit controller and debt collection.

The existing construction group is also developing a new standard for roofers and the food and drink group developing one for advanced bakers, BIS added.

A BIS guidance document for the new monthly deadline for expressing an interest in starting Trailblazers stated that “moving to monthly opportunities to submit EOIs [expressions of interest] will mean that employers can put in bids at any time with the assurance that they will be reviewed more regularly.”

The list of exact dates for monthly submission deadlines is available from the BIS website.

The guidance also revealed BIS would be offering financial support for employers from SMEs to cover the cost of travel to Trailblazer meetings.

The guidance said the fund would be “small” but did not say how much would be available, directing providers and employers who wished to find out more to their Skill Funding Agency relationship manager.

An AELP spokesperson said the move was “a very good idea.”

“It looks like they’re listening to some of the concerns that have been raised.”

The full list of new Trailblazers includes asbestos analysts, surveyors and technicians, automotive glazing, bid and proposal, biotechnology, building services engineering, business improvement, business innovation and growth, ceramics, community energy, community health and sport, construction, constructional steelwork, creative venues, and energy and utilities.

Engineering construction pipefitting, engineering project controller, entrepreneurship, film and TV, footwear, lift and escalator electromechanics, metrology, motorcycle manufacturing, project management, real estate and veterinary nursing were also on the list.