The publication of the 300th apprenticeship standard is a sign of real change with tangible outcomes, says Sir Gerry Berragan

June was a record-breaking month for the Institute for Apprenticeships, in which we published the 300th apprenticeship standard. We have now approved 90 new standards in just six months – twice the number approved in any previous six-month period since 2014, when the apprenticeship reforms began.

The 300th standard is significant because it exceeds the number of standards in place in a mature, respected apprenticeship system such as that of Switzerland, which has approximately 250 standards. It is close to the 330 standards in place in Germany, another established and respected apprenticeship system.

With the publication of the milestone standard, the number of approved standards has exceeded the number of standards under development for the first time since the reforms began. We’re now on track to deliver 400 standards by the end of the financial year.

This is a fitting tribute to the efforts of the trailblazers, IfA staff and the route panel and board members who have worked so hard to make this happen. We’ve truly turned a corner in terms of productivity and efficiency, without compromising on quality.

To ensure that this progress continues, we have introduced simpler, more intuitive online templates for standards development, and they have been well received by trailblazer groups. We’ve also implemented a programme of intensive two-day workshops for trailblazers to assist with the rapid production of high quality, compliant occupational standards and end point assessment plans.
In addition, we’ve agreed individual timelines with trailblazer groups that will make it possible to complete an apprenticeship standard within 12 months of the group forming. So for the first time trailblazers have something concrete to work towards, and we know it can be done.

The clinical trials specialist standard, developed and delivered in ten months, is a sign of things to come: real change with tangible outcomes.

Further testament to the progress that has been made is that for the first time, the number of apprentices starting on standards now exceeds the number of starts on frameworks. Just over a year ago, starts on standards represented only 3 per cent of all starts. Not only are there more starts on apprenticeship standards than frameworks, but those standards better reflect the diversity of the economy in terms of occupations and skill level, and apprentices on standards receive more training than apprentices on frameworks.

So more standards are now available, developed at a faster pace, and more employers are now choosing standards over frameworks for their apprentices. This represents tremendous progress, and it is in this context that last week we issued our new strategic plan for 2018-2023. The plan explains the three strategic principles developed by the IfA board in order to shape the future development of the institute over the next five years: efficient high-quality solutions, collaborative relationships, and building credibility and transforming the landscape.

These principles are described in detail in the strategy, and a vision of what the board expects the institute to have achieved by the end of the five-year period has been detailed. In our business plan, which was also launched last week, we have derived a range of aligned objectives for the 2018-19 financial year from these strategic principles and some high-level performance indicators against which the board will monitor our progress.

We will also be placing our annual report and accounts in the Commons before recess, giving the detail of what has been achieved in our first year.