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Government response to Richard review: Employers to design their own apprenticeships

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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 today.

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.

Speaking this morning at White Light, an entertainment lighting company, 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 response sets out its plan to redefine apprenticeships to build on their success and make them among the best in the world.

It hopes this will raise standards, overhaul qualifications, assessment and delivery, and place apprenticeships firmly in the hands of employers.

Employers from car manufacturers to accountancy firms will be able to directly design the apprenticeships that suit their business - working with training providers to give apprentices the skills they need to do the job, in the office or on the factory floor.

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.

Business secretary Vince Cable said: "When I travel around the country, businesses frequently tell me that if they are not able to respond quickly to skills shortages they lose out on vital business.

"These plans will radically change the way we deliver apprenticeships. They will put employers in the driving seat so they can develop the workforce they need to grow their business."

HR director for Telefonica UK, Ann Pickering, said: "The Government's response to the Richard Review is a reminder to businesses of the important role that they need to play in raising the benchmark for apprenticeships in England.

"The opportunity cost of not acting is simply unthinkable. The growing digital economy creates huge opportunity, but to grasp that opportunity and enable the UK to compete on a global level, businesses of all sizes must commit to supporting young people on their journey to work."

Skills minister Matthew Hancock said: "We firmly agree with Doug Richard's assessment of the challenges and opportunities ahead for apprenticeships, and his recommendations to reform the programme in pursuit of rigour and responsiveness.

"Now we've set out our plans, we want to hear from employers, educators, apprentices and others in the further education and skills sector to help us design and implement these changes."