With the support of more than 60 major companies, the UK government is ushering in a “new era” for apprenticeships, Prime Minister David Cameron said this week during a meeting with over 500 young people. In addition to reforms that will ensure the highest possible quality of apprenticeship programmes, the country’s leading companies have committed to providing thousands of new vocational training schemes. The aim is to create 100,000 work training opportunities within two years, greatly advancing efforts to tackle youth unemployment.
The apprenticeship reforms, spurred by the Richard Review of the existing system, are designed to make vocational training a worthy rival to higher and further education through accentuating academic rigour, Cameron said. In the future, the minimum length of an apprenticeship will be one year. Going forward, employers will have the main say, with apprenticeship standards based on their specific skill needs. The new system will also be greatly simplified, meaning that the new standards will describe the skills and knowledge required by an occupation concisely and in simple language.
In order to ensure the highest quality, the new apprenticeship system will involve strict independent assessment of apprentices, as well as a more rigorous academic assessment through stricter requirements for maths and English results. This will serve to evaluate the competence of a candidate. In addition, apprentices will get a pass, merit or distinction grade, which will align the system with that of full-time education.
According to Cameron, the new apprenticeship system should start operating at the end of next year. The objective is to have the new standards applying to all new apprentices from 2017, the PM added.
Welcoming the change spokesman Stephen Smyth said: ‘Having been providing rigorous Engineering Apprenticeships since 1967, ATG Training have always had a minimum duration of 1 year, most however last 3 years and culminate in HNC or HND level qualification. ATG Training are therefore well placed to serve the ‘new era for Apprenticeships’.
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