Here’s a plan of action that could help:
If you’ve been following apprenticeships news recently, you might be aware that groups of employers across the country (trailblazer groups) have been developing new apprenticeship standards to train apprentices in jobs roles specific to their area of business.
These standards are gradually replacing apprenticeship frameworks which used to form the building blocks of all apprenticeships.
What’s exciting about new apprenticeship standards?
Firstly, they’re developed by businesses for businesses, so experts on the job roles required in their industry have worked together to consider the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours (KSBs) required for each job role and develop this into an apprenticeship standard and assessment plan (a plan which assesses whether the apprentice has reached the required KSBs).
Secondly, Apprenticeship Standards must be a certain quality to be approved, so they MUST be at least 12 months long and at least 20% of the apprentices’ time must be spent on off the job training. This quality standard aims to eradicate less robust apprenticeships and ensure the apprenticeship can legally recognised as such (apprenticeships, like degrees, are legally protected now).
Finally, qualifications will only be included in the apprenticeship if the trailblazer group have decided they are necessary (i.e. if they’re a professional requirement for the job). Instead the apprenticeship itself is the benchmark of success and will have an end-point assessment which is graded.
Trailblazer groups across the country have been working hard to introduce new standards, and by 2020 we’ll be living in a world where frameworks are history and all new apprenticeships will be based on standards.
However, be aware that the lesser used frameworks are being switched off
As the introduction of standards has gathered pace, the Skills Funding Agency has also started to withdraw frameworks that have a corresponding standard or have had no (or very little) take up in recent years. This means that those frameworks are no longer funded and are therefore no longer provided by training providers.
Switching off the frameworks with zero take up is not a problem as clearly employers are unlikely to miss them. However, on December 1st, the SFA began to withdraw frameworks with less than 50 apprenticeship starts over the last two years, which means that there may be employers out there that were benefitting from these apprenticeships, who will not receive funding for the same apprenticeship this year.
One business’s experience
This is a situation that a small design and retail business in Nottingham experienced recently. The business had started looking for a creative apprenticeship to employ their second apprentice on at the end of 2014. They couldn’t find anything locally, so asked their local college if they were interested in working together to introduce the Creative Craft Practitioner Framework to the region. They had a great response from creative businesses and young people in the area.
They then established a sister organisation called the Nottingham Craft Academy, writing the schemes of work and lesson plans with their partner college who would take care of assessment working with the SFA and City and Guilds.
In June 2016 the academy finally started teaching the three young people it had employed for it’s own business (Debbie Bryan), and had successful worked with other creative business in the region to create a further 8 creative apprenticeship jobs with 3 in the pipeline.
Only a few weeks into teaching they got the news the framework was to be withdrawn from the funded apprenticeships list in December 2017 as it had low interest (less than 50 starts) from employers over the past 2 years.
This was devastating new for the new creative academy, as their training provider was unable to offer an alternative, and currently there isn’t an equivalent apprenticeship standard that fits the bill. The new standards that had been developed by a craft trailblazer group were in very specific job roles, nothing was a suitable replacement for the creative craft ‘all-rounder’ they could develop with the framework. It was suggested that the business could begin work on a new apprenticeship standard for the job role they required. However, this is a long-term solution (standards can take 18 months from development to approval), rather than a quick fix, and it can be time consuming activity for a small business owner to lead such a process. Find out what they did below.
So, what can a business do if their desired apprenticeship framework is no longer funded
If a business finds themselves in a situation where a framework that they have previously trained an apprentice on has had its funded withdrawn here are some ideas of what to do next.
Look at apprenticeship standards
- Have a good look through the apprenticeship standards, and find out if they’re In Development, Published or Approved for Delivery.
- If there are one or two that you think could be a good fit, find out more detail about that standard on uk.
- If the standard is approved for delivery, find out which training providers are providing it on the ‘find apprenticeship training’ tool.
- If the standard is not ready for delivery, could you get involved in the development process, or provide feedback during the consultation? Each standard should have a contact that you can email for more information.
Make sure you’ve got a supportive training provider
If you suddenly find yourself high and dry because the framework you’re interested in, or have trained apprentices before has been withdrawn, the training provider that you’ve been working with will hopefully be one of your most valuable sources of information, for instance:
- The training provider might be training on a new standard that is a suitable replacement or they might be able to suggest another framework with some role specific adaptation that could be a good fit.
- If you’re not happy with any alternatives on offer, contact more training providers and get their ideas on the best solution. The National Apprenticeship Business Support Team can help connect you.
- If you’re looking for a training provider for the first time, be sure to speak to a few providers to see what they can offer and find out if they’re a good fit for your business. See our guide on questions to ask a potential training provider.
Get additional support and ideas elsewhere too
There are many organisations that might be able to offer support if you’re struggling to find the right funded apprenticeship.
- Contact National Apprenticeship Business Support Team to gain suggestions on an alternative apprenticeship (framework or standard) and / or training provider.
- Contact your trade association or trade body. It’s likely that if a new apprenticeship is being developed, they’ll be aware of it. They’ll may also know if other businesses are looking for a solution. Let them know you are too as they may be able to bring businesses together to create a solution.
- Your local council or LEP may have initiatives to encourage and support businesses interested in apprenticeships so let them know if you’re facing problems finding an apprenticeship for your business. If many businesses are struggling to get the apprenticeship training they need the organisation may be able to work with local training providers to address gaps.
- Let us at Apprenticemakers Due to our daily work around apprenticeships we might be able to suggest next steps. We can also help to put you in contact with other employers in the same field that may have already found a solution or you can join the community for free and connect direct if you’d prefer.
If you can’t find the right apprenticeship for your business, here’s our six point plan:
- Find out sooner rather than later so that you can come up with an alternative solution and it doesn’t delay your recruitment needs.
- Find out what standards are already developed, or in development, who can deliver them, and if you can get involved.
- If there’s not a perfect match, see if there are other frameworks or standards that might fit the bill with bespoke elements for your business.
- Ensure your training provider is doing the best job for your business and is helping you with solutions.
- Use your networks (and other organisations’) to see how other employers have tackled it – Join Apprenticemakers to help with this!
- Make your voice heard – contact trade associations, the Skills Funding Agency, your local council, LEP and Apprenticemakers, to see if a regional or national solution can be achieved sooner by engaging with policy and business networks.
. . . And finally
If you’re wondering how the craft business we mentioned solved the issue, well it’s work in progress.
They have spoken to many potential sources of support to seek a solution, including their training provider, local council, Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), two regional Universities, the Skills Funding Agency and Apprenticemakers, to get ideas on what do next.
Apprenticemakers raised the issue with senior policy figures and gained support from an Apprenticeship Ambassador who also lobbied for continued funding until a new standard was in place. Unfortunately, the decision to withdraw the funding was irreversible as it had been made at ministerial level, however the business was extremely grateful for this support, saying that it ‘gave them a voice outside their business’ and helped them gain regional support.
The business has since began exploring alternatives, such as a Customer Service Apprenticeship with creative tutorials, or the City and Guilds Craft Diploma. Their journey isn’t over, however there is a chance that they have found alternative sources of training whilst new standards come online, and their local council that was already supporting their apprentices with bursaries have been very supportive and agreed to continue that support with an alternative programme.
If you are a small business that is struggling to find an apprenticeship for your business, please ensure that you’ve contacted the National Apprenticeship Business Support Team, and feel free to get in contact Apprenticemakers for an informal discussion on additional sources of support for your business.