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Apprenticeship changes offer both benefits and challenges

People 1st has expressed a cautious welcome to the changes announced earlier this week following the Government’s release of long-awaited plans for implementing apprenticeship reform throughout England.
Key to the government’s announcement was that apprenticeship framework development will be employer-led and will offer great simplicity in their design and structure.
Brian Wisdom, chief executive at People 1st, said that the organisation welcomed the decision to give employers the chance to develop their own standards.

“We’re really pleased with this decision, especially as employers in our industry have been preparing for this outcome and working with us for some months on how these standards could look.

“However, given employers have been preparing for these changes, it’s certainly disappointing that neither our industry nor any other service sector has been named among the trailblazers that will test the model.”

Brian noted that there is a real fear that the model developed in other sectors will not be relevant for travel.

“The employer groups that we’ve been working with have expressed strong concerns that the models that are developed may not work for their businesses.

“A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach will not easily transfer across other sectors and we have a real concern that SMEs will be excluded as there is no requirement to get a broad range of industry views.

“To help combat this we’re already working with employers in our sector to support them in their bid to join the trailblazers.”

The newly announced changes also mean that apprenticeships will be made to existing employees of all ages, but only in cases where there is substantial training required in a skilled occupation. Brian noted that People 1st welcomed the fact that apprenticeships will not be restricted to new staff, but expressed concerns around other changes.

“The 20 percent offsite requirement and greater financial contribution from employers will probably discourage some employers from offering apprenticeships, particularly SMEs, which will make it harder to address skill needs.

“Of an even greater concern is that these changes and possible drop in apprenticeship numbers comes at a time when a third of the 660,000 new jobs available will be for managers and skilled roles.”

Brian did note that while there changes will not take effect until 2017 the transition will start from 2015.

“While there is still time for employers to prepare – and we know this is an area that they’re already working on – significant changes like this will create considerable uncertainty and upheaval,” said Brian.

“Our real concern is that all of this combined may make it more difficult to attract people into skilled roles in travel through apprenticeships.

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