Apprenticeship Standards explained: what’s to know?

There are lots of changes being made to the Apprenticeship programme, we have the levy this year in April and we also have Standards slowly being introduced and replacing Apprenticeship frameworks. With a lot of information being passed from the government, it can be hard to know what’s what. Here is an overview of what you need to know.

What are Trailblazer Apprenticeships?

Trailblazer is the new standard for Apprenticeships, which will come to replace the existing system over the next few years. It sets new skill and assessment standards for Apprenticeships to ensure they maintain their reputation as high quality and relevant vocational qualification. The new standards were designed by employers for employers to include the sector specific skills needed for the future of the industry.

How are they different from current Apprenticeship frameworks? 

The new Standards will be short (one or two pages) and set out the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to thrive in a specific job role. They will include assessment criteria and qualifications designed to stretch Apprentices over at least 12 months of training. Unlike the ‘general’ frameworks of current Apprenticeships, every new Standard has to relate to a specific job role or occupation and provide a clear pathway to a career.

What are the benefits of Standards for your business? 

The creation of the new Trailblazer Standards has been driven by participating employers to represent the needs of large and small companies, with support from the government, professional industry bodies, training providers like Just IT, and awarding bodies. This collaboration has ensured a new standard which correctly meets the demands of the industry and can evolve to keep up with latest technological developments. It is the ambition of Trailblazers to bring Apprentices to a new standard of career-focused vocational qualification.

What are the government’s funding arrangements? 

The adoption of the new Standards will usher in new funding arrangements for all Apprenticeships. In the new system, the government will contribute a percentage of training costs as well as provide a grant to support different employers if they qualify.

An additional significant change towards Apprenticeships is the Apprenticeship Levy, which is coming into force in April 2017. The Levy is imposed on larger employers designed to encourage the uptake of Apprenticeships as a way to train and secure future talent.

All employers, with a wage bill in excess of £3m, will be charged a tax of 0.5% on the PAYE bill for the Apprenticeship Levy. Those who embrace the Apprenticeship programme will be able to use this Levy for training of their Apprentices.

The money Levy paying companies pay and don’t claim back for their own Apprenticeships, will fund the Apprenticeships for smaller companies without the financial resources to invest in training. An estimated £1.8 billion was spent on Apprenticeships in the UK last year. Through the Apprenticeship Levy, it is anticipated that this will increase to around £2.8 billion.

When is this change to Apprenticeships happening? 

Things will not change overnight. There is a lengthy transition period which has only just started. All existing Apprenticeship frameworks will continue to be valid and can be used by new Apprentices until the new standards have been signed off and approved for delivery. It is intended that all Apprenticeships will follow the Trailblazer standard by 2019/20.

What frameworks are available as Trailblazers? 

New Trailblazer Standards are being approved reflecting job roles across the IT and digital sector. Many are already available or coming very soon. Want to know if a Trailblazer option is available for your chosen specialisation? Just ask and we can let you know.

How flexible are these Standards? 

The Trailblazer Standard has been created to be more flexible to the needs of employers. Standards are created to match the specific requirements of individual job roles and can be customised to suit a specific requirement. We will work with you to ensure that all training and qualifications provided match your real business need.

How will they be assessed? 

As with the old system, Apprentices will be assessed throughout the duration of their Apprenticeship. However, Trailblazers also introduce a definitive end of programme assessment designed to provide a Distinction, Merit, Pass or Fail grade. This will give Trailblazer Apprenticeships an established standard of quality – similar to many other qualifications. If you want to know more about assessment, just let us know.

Can Trailblazers be used to train existing employees? 

Yes. You don’t need to take on a new Apprentice to take advantage of the government supported Apprenticeship programme. Trailblazers will allow you to create a training programme to support any member of staff to increase their skills and enhance their career development. It is anticipated that many employers paying the new Apprenticeship Levy will use their allowance to support existing staff through the Apprenticeship scheme.

Our Apprenticeship scheme provides forward-thinking companies with motivated candidates ready to kick-start their IT and Digital careers. Covering IT Support and Networking, Software Development and Digital Marketing, Apprentices offer a great opportunity to expand and develop your business without significant investment and risk. Give us a call on 020 7426 9835 or visit our Employ an Apprentice Webpage