Further education has seen a raft of changes over the last few years, and 2020 looks set to herald a few more. With a new decade now underway we’re here with your primer to apprenticeships over the next 12 months.
From legislation to awards, we want to help you make the most of the Further Education experience.
New Decade, New Government
The first December General Election since 1923 yielded a landslide victory and a blank cheque for Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party.
The main mention of apprenticeships in the Conservative manifesto outlines that the party will “help employers invest in skills and look at how we can improve the working of the Apprenticeship Levy”. Otherwise it simply states that there is a need for “significant numbers” of learners.
The centrepiece of the Government’s education policy is the creation of a National Skills Fund. This fund will have a value of £3 billion over the course of Parliament.
According to the manifesto the fund “will provide matching funding for individuals and SMEs for high-quality education and training. A proportion will be reserved for further strategic investment in skills, and we will consult widely on the overall design.”
It is possible that consultations about the Apprenticeship Levy may also come into play during this process. We will keep you updated either way.
There is no mention on whether the target of 3 million apprenticeship starts by 2020 still stands. Given the total at present (1.8 million as of Q3 2018-19) there is every chance that the target, introduced under David Cameron in 2015, will be quietly forgotten under the new management.
The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union will now take place on 31st January.
The need to resolve our trading relationship with the EU could not be greater. Around 50,000 manufacturing apprenticeships in the UK are dependent on exports to the EU. With Honda ending UK production and an uncertain future for Nissan, BMW and Toyota, it is clear that the manufacturing industry will need extra support to ensure that these apprentices have a future in the UK.
Of equal concern is the ongoing issue of the skills gap. Between Q1 2017 and Q1 2018 the number of non-UK nationals working in the country dropped by 48,000. David Willett, corporate director at The Open University, cited the problem as a “supply and demand issue”.
“Organisations need to take a more sustainable, long-term approach, building talent through training rather than buying it in”, he said following Open University research into the skills gap.
The Rise and Rise of EPA
Last year saw the first apprentices take End Point Assessment (EPA), the new form of apprenticeship grading. While your business may still be adjusting to EPA, it’s worth remembering why apprenticeships have changed.
Thanks to the work of employer-led Trailblazer groups, EPA does more to ensure that your learners are able to complete their role. It’s a process that takes on even greater relevance in the context of the skills gap.
Johan Thomsen, business development manager at Instructus, tells us “End Point Assessment is designed to independently determine if apprentices have learned the knowledge, skills and behaviours directly relevant to their role over the course of their learning.”
“You can see how this is achieved through the deliberate Standards-based approach of the assessment tools and grading criteria. It is also a key requirement that assessors have relevant, recent and applicable experience in the roles for which they assess.”
Are your learners already approaching End Point Assessment? Click here to find out how we can support you as an EPAO.
Apprenticeship Events in 2020
The biggest event on the apprenticeship calendar is also one of the first: National Apprenticeship Week.
National Apprenticeship Week is an annual week-long celebration of apprenticeships across England. This year the event takes place between the 3rd and 7th of February and focuses on the theme “look beyond”.
Over the years National Apprenticeship Week has been a grand opportunity for employers to promote the success of their learners and apprenticeships programmes. It’s also a great promotional tool to encourage employers who may be thinking of taking on an apprentice.
The 2nd to the 6th March marks Scottish National Apprenticeship Week. A similar event for businesses north of the border, 2020’s event focuses on the theme “talent without borders”. Click here to find out more.
Early summer is usually the deadline for submissions to the National Apprenticeship Awards and Scottish Apprenticeship Awards. The dates, categories and guidelines are yet to be announced but you can register on each site for updates.
The Government has announced that the final date for any English apprenticeship framework start will be the 31st July. After this date all English apprenticeships will use Standards and End Point Assessment.
There will be more events to report as the year rolls on. Subscribe to our email updates (if you haven’t already) and we’ll keep you posted with what’s coming up for apprenticeships in 2020.