Download your copy of our special 16 page supplement, produced in partnership with NCFE, via the link below.

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Introduction to the supplement

Thousands of apprentices, from hairdressers to aeronautic engineers, will next week show off all that apprenticeships have to offer.

More than 800 events, including an international conference, have-a-go activities and a radio broadcast — even apprenticeship speed dating  — will celebrate what it means to “earn and learn”.

This, the sixth National Apprenticeship Week, is designed to highlight apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the economy, and comes as employers pledge to take on more, with vacancies rising (see page 3).

But as we beat the drum for the achievements of apprentices, it is also a good time to reflect on a year when this vocational training route has come under scrutiny with four major reports.

Over the past year FE Week has reported on the findings of successful entrepreneurs Doug Richard and Jason Holt, both commissioned by the government to look into apprenticeships and who both write in this supplement.

We’ve also covered Lord Heseltine’s views on growth, as well as the report from the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee.

There has been much debate in the past year, from Lord Heseltine’s suggestion that skills funding should come from a single pot of money to be dished out to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), and employer ownership of the apprenticeship system, to tax breaks for employers as incentives to take on apprentices.

The over-arching theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2013 is that “apprenticeships deliver”.

FE Minister Matthew Hancock tells us how the development of higher apprenticeships is one of his “personal priorities” (see page 4).

He says: “As well as ensuring that each apprenticeship is for a minimum of a year and that English and maths are a priority, we are also offering apprenticeships as an alternative to university into professions such as insurance, accounting, and law.”

He points out how important it is to make it easier for employees to take on apprentices and says he will shortly publish details of how the government plans to take forward recommendations from Doug Richard’s  review.

The over-arching theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2013 is that “apprenticeships deliver”. The week’s events aim to showcase how apprenticeships can benefit apprentices, their employers and the economy — and to inform and persuade others to get involved, says the National Apprenticeship Service, which oversees the campaign that ends on March 15.

A T-shirt competition has helped to launch proceedings and the winning design, created by 18-year-old fashion designer Jessica Tshoukas, shows a hot air balloon with the words ‘the sky’s the limit’ across the front.

Major conferences and business breakfasts hosted by premiership football clubs are planned, as are apprenticeship buses touring cities and regions. And Mr Hancock is planning a job swap with 23-year-old BAE manufacturing engineer Jenny Westworth at her factory workplace near Preston.

Jenny, apprentice champion of the year 2012, will shadow the minister before he then tries his hand at manufacturing on the final assembly line for the Typhoon aircraft.

A huge range of organisations and individuals, including employers, apprentices, business support and sector organisations, learning providers, colleges and schools will support the week by hosting activities, ensuring the event is “bigger and better” than ever before.

David Way, chief executive of NAS, says: “last year was a huge success and we look forward to showcasing the value high-quality apprenticeships bring to individuals, businesses and the wider economy and celebrating England’s apprentices again this year.”

This supplement, produced by FE Week and sponsored by NCFE, is a celebration of apprenticeships.

Inside you will find a calendar (page 12) that picks out some of the national events. Read on and you’ll find news of our competition that will give an apprentice the chance to win a top-of-the-range camera.

And that’s not all, you’ll find words of wisdom from Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, NUS vice president Toni Pearce and MP Adrian Bailey, chair of the BIS Select Committee.

Finally, make sure you stay up to date with National Apprenticeships Week by following the hashtag #NAW2013 on Twitter or by following @feweek online.

Eleanor Radford, senior reporter at FE Week

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