Employers will be empowered to design and develop their own apprenticeship standards and qualifications, so they can address skills shortages that are threatening growth, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has announced yesterday.
Responding to the review on apprenticeships carried out last year by entrepreneur Doug Richards, the Government has said apprenticeships should be more focused on the needs of employers as some businesses find they are not tailored enough to their requirements. Clegg said he believes it is “vital” that apprenticeships are tailored around what employers want.
Clegg thinks this will enable the employer to design their own qualifications and choose their own training provider, rather than getting a “one-size-fits-all-programme” that is “bad for apprentices” and “bad for employers”.
The Government’s 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.
Dereth Wood , writing in HR magazine states that the HR Lunchtime Debate survey showed businesses agree, with 56% saying it’s very important for employers to be involved in the design of skills programmes. However, recent opportunities to get involved through programmes such as the Employer Ownership Pilots don’t appear to have caught on. In this survey, 72% of respondents hadn’t heard of the scheme and more than half said they were unlikely to apply.
Leadership and Management Skills – Abilities Most Lacking
By taking an active approach and tailoring the learning to suit the context and sector, employers can help equip their staff with the skills their business needs to succeed. The survey showed the abilities businesses felt were most lacking are management and leadership skills, time management and communication skills. .
These skills, explains Dereth, should be developed in the context of the workplace and for this it’s got to be developed in partnership with employers.If employers are able to work together with their delivery partners to create a blended programme of learning which encompasses all these essential skills, the benefits are clear. Staff are more motivated, productivity increases and the business has the opportunity to grow and diversify.
Once the skills gaps are identified and the benefits understood, employers also need to consider how they are going to deliver the learning. Whereas in the past they might have needed to take a more formal and regulated approach to learning, we now live in a digital age and with this comes great chances for employers to tackle it with a more creative and flexible outlook.
We often hear from employers – and this showed in the HR magazine survey results too – that finding the budget and sparing time off for staff to complete learning are barriers for them. But it’s now much easier to take learning into the workplace, using technology to provide a seamless link between the employer, the trainer and the learner.
This corresponds with Call of the Wild’s approach to developing the staff of our clients. We have been offering leadership and management development using a blended approach to delivery. This is in response to our clients needs and recognising their budgetary and time constraints. For information on our graduate and apprenticeship programmes click here.