Government launch consultation in response to Richard Review

The government has today published their response to the Richard Review in a “plan to redefine apprenticeships”, starting with a formal consultation.

The document, The Future of Apprenticeships in England: Next Steps from the Richard Review, comes four months after Doug Richard’s independent review of apprenticeships, and asks 24 questions.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “These plans will radically change the way we deliver Apprenticeships. They will put employers in the driving seat so they can develop the workforce they need to grow their business.”

The government plans include:

  • “Employers putting recognised and meaningful industry standards at the heart of every apprenticeship.
  • Every apprenticeship should be targeted at a skilled job, involving substantial new learning that will provide the foundations for a career and a springboard for progression
  • Training and accreditation of existing workers who are already fully competent in their jobs should be delivered separately
  • Apprenticeships should be focused on the outcome: clearly setting out what Apprentices should know and be able to do at the end of their apprenticeship
  • Apprenticeships will move to a final holistic test which has the full confidence of employers
  • All apprentices will work towards a level 2 qualification either through GCSEs or functional skills in English and maths, from August 2014, if they have not already achieved this.”

FE Minister Matthew Hancock said: “We firmly agree with Doug Richard’s assessment of the challenges and opportunities ahead for apprenticeships, and his recommendations to reform the programme in pursuit of rigour and responsiveness.”

But the response made little mention of funding apprenticeships through a National Insurance or tax credit system, which Mr Richard had insisted should be “at the heart” of apprenticeship reform.

A spokesperson for the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) told FE Week they had “warned the government that any adoption of Doug Richard’s tax credits proposal to fund employers’ apprenticeships provision is fraught with danger.

“Having previously expressed deep concerns about the likely impact on small business take-up of the programme, the AELP is therefore pleased that the new consultation document on the future of apprenticeships has held back from a firm ministerial commitment to the idea.”

Mr Hancock added: “Now we’ve set out our plans, we want to hear from employers, educators, apprentices and others in the further education and skills sector to help us design and implement these changes.”

The consultation will run until May 22 and you can respond online,  or via the  email address.


Register to join an FE Week ministerial webinar about the response to the Richard Review at 1pm today:


The 24 consultation questions in full

Question 1: How can we ensure that every Apprenticeship delivers substantial new skills?

Question 2: How should we invite and enable employers to come together to design new standards for Apprenticeships?

Question 3: What are your views on the proposed criteria for Apprenticeship standards as set out above?

Question 4: Should there be only one standard per Apprentice occupation/job role?

Question 5: Should there be only one qualification per standard?

Question 6: How should we manage the transition from the current system of Apprenticeship frameworks to a new system of employer-designed Apprenticeship standards and qualifications?

Question 7: How can we make sure that the new standards stay relevant to employers, and are not compromised over time?

Question 8: How can we ensure that employers are better engaged with the development and oversight of the assessment in Apprenticeships?

Question 9: How could employers best be involved in the practical delivery of assessment?

Question 10: How can the independence and consistency of assessment in Apprenticeships be further improved?

Question 11: How should we implement end point assessment for Apprenticeships?

Question 12: How should we implement grading for Apprenticeship qualifications?

Question 13: What are the specific obstacles to all Apprentices achieving level 2 English and maths as part of their Apprenticeship, and how could these be overcome?

Question 14: How would a requirement to have all Apprentices achieve level 2 in English and maths impact on employers, providers and potential learners? What are the risks and potential solutions?

Question 15: What further steps, by Government or others, could encourage greater diversity and innovation in training delivery to help Apprentices reach the standards that employers have set?

Question 16: What approach would work best to ensure Apprentices benefit from time to train and reflect away from their day to day workplace?

Question 17: Should off-site learning be made mandatory?

Question 18: How can the process for approving training providers be improved, to help employers find high quality, relevant training?

Question 19: Do you believe that a kitemarking scheme for your sector or profession would add value and be supported?

Question 20: What more can government do to facilitate effective third party/external use of its data to better inform individuals and employers about Apprenticeships?

Question 21: What approaches are effective to inform young people and their parents about the opportunities provided by an Apprenticeship?

Question 22: How can we support employers to engage with learners of all ages to provide information about Apprenticeship opportunities?

Question 23: Do you consider that the proposals set out in this document would have a positive or negative impact on any group, including those with protected characteristics?  Please provide any comments or evidence you have for your answer and set out which aspects of the reforms will impact and how these impacts might be managed.

Question 24: Do you have any further comments on the issues in this consultation?

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply to Jinny McDonald-Matthews Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.


  1. Skills Chief Sarah Sillars, OBE, has pledged to help Government and industry find a new way of working to ensure that the skills gap is plugged in the wake of the Richard Review response.

    The CEO of Semta – which helps provide skills to the science, engineering, manufacturing and technology sectors – has pledged to double the number of youngsters taking up apprenticeships in the next three years.

    “Employer ownership is a key factor in developing apprenticeships to help secure Britain’s role in science and engineering.” said Sarah.

    “Semta is a big believer in asking industry what it needs from the sector and practices what it preaches.”

    The Government’s response to The Richard Review indicates that the private sector will play an increasing role shaping the next generation of skilled workers.

    “Our time has come,” said Sarah.

    “There is a huge amount of work to be carried out in the next few years.

    “The Government understands the importance that apprenticeships will play in the future prosperity of the country and industry is crying out for a more secure and plentiful supply of skilled labour.

    Semta’s footprint extends to more than 128,000 companies employing more than 1.65 million people with a combined turnover of around £300 Billion.

    “Semta is uniquely placed to help industry and government make the transition process as smooth and effective as possible.

    “We know the sector inside out – and the sector knows and trusts us. This relationship will be key in channelling communications between government and industry and evolving a way forward.”

    The organisation is planning a full consultation process to help ensure that the arguments are explored and examined before statutes are drawn.

    Semta oversaw a massive upturn (142%) in engineering and advanced manufacturing apprenticeship take-ups during the final quarter of 2012 – but believe that much more needs to be done.

    “The Richard Review has identified that we need to overhaul the image of apprenticeships – reach out to parents, teachers and young people themselves, to show just what is on offer.

    “We at Semta intend to play a major role in doing just that.

    “Apprenticeships can offer earning and learning – not debt and despair.”

  2. I read the Richard review and the government response and am mystified by the call for “Employers putting recognised and meaningful industry standards at the heart of every apprenticeship”.

    What are National Occupational Standards, on which all vocational qualifications should be based, if not “meaningful industry standards”?