Concerns to be highlighted at National Apprenticeship Conference

Lindsay McCurdy (left) and Petert Cobrin (right) are the conference organisers

Employer engagement and the delivery of quality vocational training is to be scrutinised at the first national Apprenticeship Conference next year.

The event, organised by the LinkedIn group Apprenticeships England, will be held at the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) on March 7, and debate how best to communicate apprenticeships to young people, parents, schools and colleges.

Peter Cobrin, event organiser and National Education Director at, said: “It gives us a chance to focus on the major concerns that have been repeatedly echoed in the Linked forum over the last months.

“Our members are the people who are actually at the sharp end of delivery and they want the chance to discuss what concerns them and what can be done to improve things.

“It’s this demand we’re responding to with this conference.”

Confirmed speakers include Ruth Spellman, Chair of the Careers Professional Alliance (CPA), Graham Hoyle, Chief Executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), and Scott Upton, Vice Principal of Sandwell College.

Meanwhile the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) will be represented by two individuals including Karen Woodward, a Divisional Apprenticeship Director at NAS.

They key topics include improving employer engagement, ensuring the delivery of quality training and communicating apprenticeship opportunities.

“We are focused on getting the apprenticeship message into secondary schools, and embedding the apprenticeship pathways at the earliest opportunity,” Mr Cobrin said.

“This appears to be going by default at the moment according to our members.

“There is also concern which FE Week has highlighted in response our members over short-term apprenticeships, and we welcome the SFA’s cracking down on the worse examples.”

The conference was set up in response to high demand from the LinkedIn group, which has grown from 850 members to almost 1,300 since the event was announced.

Mr Cobrin said: “We were fed up with high priced conferences, £500 plus per delegate, at which grey suits spoke to grey suits, sheltering behind their Powerpoints, spouting the party line, while all the time there were real issues to debate.”

Over 300 people have expressed an interest in the National Apprenticeship Conference so far, and event organisers say they’ll be taking bookings once Apprenticeships England is established as a Community Interest Company (CIC) next week.

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