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Last month, OCR held a breakfast meeting in the House of Commons on making apprenticeships work.
Chaired by Liam Byrne MP, Shadow Skills Minister, the meeting brought together employers from across a range of sectors, including banking, energy, vehicle manufacturing and construction, as well as senior civil servants from BIS and parliamentarians, to share experiences of implementing new apprenticeships and to identify areas of concern at a time when apprenticeships are undergoing rapid change.
The meeting followed the recent announcement of Phase Two of the Trailblazers project, the second phase of a programme designed to make apprenticeships more responsive to the needs of employers. Representatives from both Phase One and Phase Two Trailblazers were in attendance.
As well as helping to create exciting new apprenticeships that meet employer needs, OCR was particularly interested to listen to feedback on specific issues such as improving standards of English and maths, the grading system and the assessment of competence at the end of an apprenticeship.
Among those attending, there was a consensus that well informed careers advice about apprenticeships was key. All felt that the awareness of apprenticeships by schools and colleges and the routes into them needed to rise. Different sectors expressed different priorities but employers wanted to be in the driving seat to choose the type of training to suit their needs, not have it determined for them. Starting and running apprenticeship programmes was easier for large organisations but more support was needed to get SMEs to commit to the process. SMEs expressed particular concern about making sure teaching is relevant to their trade and the potential administrative burden they face around funding.
Charlotte Bosworth, OCR Director of Skills and Employment, said: “Thanks to a very stimulating discussion and a genuine sharing of knowledge by all those involved in implementing apprenticeships, this breakfast event produced lots of exciting ideas on making apprenticeships work. The issue of maths is key and, as a provider of a range of maths qualifications, OCR hopes to inform the debate about how to achieve the rise in standards that is required.”
Liam Byrne MP commented: “When it comes to apprenticeships, the government has focused on quantity over quality, yet the future of this country depends on achieving both. The OCR event was a brilliant opportunity to pool expertise and discuss the ways in which we can achieve this. This work is vital if we’re to create accessible opportunities for young people and address the UK’s skills gap.”
Find out about what OCR has to offer on the Apprenticeship page.