The new minimum length of delivery for all apprentices aged 16 to 18 has been backed by the head of the association of employment and learning providers (AELP).

Graham Hoyle said the new policy, announced by John Hayes MP last December and effective from August 2012, reflects current industry practice.

“We have of course already accepted the government policy placing a 12 month minimum period on all apprenticeship frameworks for 16-18 year olds,” Mr Hoyle said in Issue 557 of the AELP countdown.

“That after all reflects the current norm anyway.”

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) has said they will look at extending the new minimum length of delivery to older apprentices aged 19 and above.

Mr Hoyle said any minimum period for adult apprentices would need need to be flexible and consider prior learning.

“Potential minimum periods for adult apprentices is under review and we are still firmly of the view that much greater flexibility needs to be both available and exercised to fully take into account the varying levels of skill and experience that these older workers (19+) bring to the completion of a full apprenticeship framework,” Mr Hoyle said.

The comments follow a number of government announcements made during National Apprenticeship Week (February 6-10).

Bidding launched for Employer Ownership of Skills pilot

The prime minister opened the bidding for the “Employer Ownership of Skills” pilot on Tuesday.

Businesses can submit proposals for up to £50 million of direct public funding, bypassing colleges and training providers in order to deliver innovative apprenticeships and vocational training.

“By focusing investment where it is most needed to deliver sustainable growth and offering real ownership of vocational training to employers, we are equipping businesses with the skills they need to rebalance our economy and distribute opportunity more widely,” David Cameron said.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has launched a prospectus for the scheme explaining how businesses can bid for the first £50 million of the pilot.

Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) said: “I believe that to improve both the quality and sustainability of vocational skills, we need a shift in the balance of power away from government and towards employers.

“They are the people who really know what their business needs to grow and thrive.”

The UKCES says successful bids should include an increase in the number of people taking part in vocational training, such as apprenticeships, and make a significant impact on employer productivity and growth.

Employer proposals need to be submitted by April 26, 2012, before final decisions are given in June and July.

Second round of bidding for higher apprenticeship fund launched

The prime minister opened a second round of bidding for the higher apprenticeship fund on Tuesday.

Businesses and training providers can submit proposals for a share of £6 million, used to develop apprenticeship schemes up to “degree equivalent”.

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) say they want proposals to target the following sectors:

  • Accounting
  • Aerospace / Aviation
  • Early Years Professional
  • Health
  • Land based engineering
  • Law (Paralegal)
  • Renewable technologies / micro-generation
  • Retail and hospitality
  • Space Industries
  • Utilities and energy
  • Education (online / e-learning)

The invitation to tender will be available from February 13 through Bravo, the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) e-procurement website.

The funding follows successful bids for 19,000 higher apprenticeships in December 2011, amounting to almost £19 million.

Nick Clegg launches £1,500 cash incentive for small employers

The deputy prime minister launched the new £1,500 cash incentive for small businesses on Monday.

Nick Clegg made the announcement, which hopes to encourage more local firms to take on a young apprentice, in an video message uploaded to YouTube.

Mr Clegg said: “Recently we’ve seen some big British names announce they’ll be taking on more apprentices – HSBC, Jaguar, McDonalds, Asda and that is fantastic news.

“But we’re also making it much easier for small firms to take people on, cutting red tape so it isn’t a bureaucratic nightmare and introducing a new £1500 cash incentive for small businesses taking on their first apprentice under the age of 24.”

The prime minister David Cameron confirmed on Tuesday that the funding would be available to businesses from this week.

“I’m delighted to underline our commitment to strengthen our economy by helping employers take on apprentices and ensure that the UK workforce has the skills that businesses need,” Mr Cameron said.

“Under this Government apprenticeship starts are increasing at a record rate, with improvements across the age range, in all sectors, throughout the country.”

John Hayes MP announces WorldSkills UK – The Skills Show

The skills minister announced a UK successor to the WorldSkills London 2011 competition at the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The new annual showcase, named ‘WorldSkills UK – The Skills Show’, will be held at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham from November 15-17, 2012.

John Hayes MP, speaking at the Parliamentary Reception for National Apprenticeship Week, said: “It will showcase all that is best in our world and by that, I mean the world of skills here in the UK.”

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) say they hope to host all of the existing national competitions at the event, as well as providing an apprenticeship showcase similar to the hugely successful WorldSkills London 2011.

The showcase will include the popular ‘Have a Go’ activities, as well as a number of experts to give out expert information, advice and guidance.

Jaine Bolton, national director for business development at NAS and official UK delegate for WorldSkills, said: “We’re hoping to get a couple of international teams there too, to do some of their own pressure testing ready for Leipzig, which of course only comes in July next year.”

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  1. Angry Bird

    I’m extremely disappointed with this response from the AELP. It was only a month or so ago I sat in a meeting and was told by AELP’s CE that their stance was all Apprenticeships were no longer about “time served” and should be about “competency achieved”