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James Holyfield. Are Apprenticeships The Curate's Egg Of The Skills Sector ? And what can you do to help improve the quality of Apprenticeships?. Purpose. The purpose of this session will be to provide a context by - exploring what an A pprenticeship is

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james holyfield

James Holyfield

Are Apprenticeships The Curate's Egg Of The Skills Sector?

And what can you do to help improve the quality of Apprenticeships?


The purpose of this session will be to

  • provide a context by

- exploring what an Apprenticeship is

  • explaining the role of all the different players
  • identifying what is already in place to deliver Apprenticeships
  • explore why Apprenticeships are inconsistent and identify what can be done
  • explore opportunities for awarding organisations
what is an apprenticeship
What is an Apprenticeship?

An Apprenticeship

  • is more than a wrapper
  • is a philosophy
  • must be owned by employers
  • must give employees the skills, knowledge and occupational competence they need
  • helps employees understand the culture and history of the sector they work in
  • is used to pass on working practices to new employees

Sadly a definition was never developed so we have no shared understanding of what an Apprenticeship is. This could be part of the problem.

what an apprenticeship is not
What an Apprenticeship is not

An Apprenticeship is not

  • just a training programme
  • for low achievers
  • easy to deliver
  • owned by learning providers

An Apprenticeship is a noble and grand idea

the role of the different players
The role of the different players

An Apprenticeship is a partnership between the

Where all three partners are supported by

Sector Skills Councils

awarding organisations

funding and regulatory bodies


  • apprentice
  • employer
  • learning provider
what is in place
What is in place?

The structures are in place, where

  • a lot has been done to develop quality frameworks issued on AFO
  • funding systems have been developed
  • certificates can be issued

But where are the gaps and opportunities?

There is little guidance at the operational level to help apprentices, employers and learning providers get the best out of Apprenticeships.

why are apprenticeships inconsistent
Why are Apprenticeships inconsistent?
  • No shared definition of what an Apprenticeship is

- Organisations have their own ideas about what an Apprenticeship is

  • Confused roles

- organisations tread on each others toes

  • Lack of guidance at an operational level

- Employers don’t know where to start and learning providers want to do it all

operational level apprentices
Operational level – apprentices

More needs to be done to help apprentices get more out of an Apprenticeship, where they

  • play an active role in the Apprenticeship
  • explore how the workplace is organised
  • understand what is expected of them
  • understand the culture, history and traditions of the sector they are joining
  • develop the skills, knowledge and occupational competence they need

What help and support do apprentices need to become effective employees?

operational level employers
Operational level – employers

More needs to be done to

  • help employers take ownerships of Apprenticeships
  • persuade more employers to use Apprenticeships
  • help employers recruit good apprentices
  • help employers support, mentor and even assess apprentices

What help, support and guidance do employers need to take an active role in Apprenticeship delivery?

operational level learning providers
Operational level – learning providers

More needs to be done to help learning providers

  • deliver the content of the Apprenticeship
  • establish partnerships with local employers
  • understand the needs of local employers and the local economy
  • put in place learning materials and materials for assessment
  • seek feedback from apprentices and employers
  • understand how to support apprentices and employers

What help do learning providers need so they understand their role?

your role
Your role

Awarding organisations play a key role:

- You develop the vocational and other qualifications

Make sure the vocational qualifications are

  • needed by employers
  • designed to give the employees the skills, knowledge and occupational competence they need
  • assessed in appropriate ways
a bigger role
A bigger role

You are well placed to

  • develop materials for employers and apprentices
  • produce guidance for employees on how to support and mentor apprentices
  • produce guidance for learning providers on how to teach and assess your qualifications

Look for gaps and identify opportunities

a temptation
A temptation

A temptation is to develop more Apprenticeship frameworks

But we have loads of frameworks already - see AFO

It might be better to look at developing operational materials that help deliver quality Apprenticeships locally.

What materials do apprentices, employers and learning providers need?

be ambitious
Be ambitious

With the right guidance in place we can be more ambitious and raise our game.

Apprenticeships could be better used to develop employees able to

  • thrive in their job role
  • contribute to the success of their organisation
  • be the managers and decision makers of the future
  • help develop sustainable organisations
  • help develop a thriving economy