March 15, 2013 - Rachel Miller
The Government has announced a new approach to apprenticeships — allowing employers to design and develop their own apprenticeship standards and qualifications, so they can address the specific skills shortages that they face.
In a response to last year's review of apprenticeships by entrepreneur Doug Richard, the Government has published a detailed consultation outlining its proposals — Future of Apprenticeships in England: Richard Review Next Steps.
It sets out a plan to redefine apprenticeships in a bid to raise standards, overhaul qualifications, assessment and delivery, and place apprenticeships in the hands of employers.
Employers of all kinds will now be able to design the apprenticeships that suit their business, working with training providers to give apprentices the skills they need to do the job.
Deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said: "Most employers say that apprentices improve productivity. So it's vital that apprenticeships are tailored around what employers want, rather than getting a one-size-fits-all programme that's bad for apprentices and bad for employers."
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "These plans will put employers in the driving seat so they can develop the workforce they need to grow their business."
The plans have been praised by business groups, including the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). John Walker, FSB national chairman, said: "An apprenticeship should not simply be in-work training, but a quality way to start a meaningful career, embedding skills, and delivering clear benefits for the business and well as the apprentice. With constant change to the apprenticeship brand in the past 30 years, the FSB would urge the Government to take its time with these reforms to ensure that puts in place a stable system that lasts for the long term. We look forward to working with the Government to take these recommendations forward and ensure that they work for small and micro businesses."