The two-day AELP 2016 National Conference: the future for
employment and skills kicked off on Monday 27 June and we were there to get an
insight from MPs, senior officials, employers and providers.
For our new Marketing Assistant, Beth, this was a new
experience having never attended a conference or exhibit with Smart Assessor.
There definitely was plenty for her to take in and learn from the talks and
workshops available to attend.
MP Nick Boles, Keith Smith, Doug Strycharczyk and a number
of employers from Sky, Jaguar Land Rover were among those in attendance
offering delegates useful information around the Employer Levy, a general
overview of apprenticeships and where the future of apprenticeship programs
Perhaps the most reassuring comment to come from Nick Boles:
MP Skills Minister during his brief but informative speech was that despite
recent uproar surrounding Brexit, ministers are still committed to
apprenticeships. “If anything, the need for investment in skills development
will be even more important for a UK, outside the EU than it is for one that is
He did however mention that: “We will be slightly delayed in
publishing further information about the pricing of specific apprenticeships standards
in the next few days.” Whilst there may be a delay, the assurance that the
Apprenticeship Levy will continue to go ahead by April 2017 can relax those who
provide and work with apprenticeship and training programs across the UK,
including us at Smart Assessor.
Employer Sky were keen to talk about how the Levy will affect
their apprentice programs and Martha Jennings told delegates that Sky will be
looking into using the Levy for existing staff. We may be out of the EU and
lots of policies may be changing but apprenticeships ARE still the future.
Doug Strycharzyk from AQR, also spoke at the conference,
where he discussed the mindset and the mental toughness of apprentices.
Apprentices need to develop a confidence in what they are doing and a resilience
to keeping upbeat when they workload gets tough, this is something which they
will carry through with them much further than any apprenticeship, a highly
useful skill to have.
We also attended an interesting work shop ran by two members of City and Guild, Patricia Santos and Bill Twigg, Jaguar Land Rover’s, Rob Hall and Calex Operations Manager, Chris Newton. JLR and Calex are both customers of Smart Assessor and will be using us for the trailblazer standards, so it was great to get listen to their thoughts at the event. The workshop opened with a brief presentation on how the new apprenticeship standards followed by a panel discussion from the four panel members.
Following a ‘8 step action plan’ explanation to help those
transition from SASE to trailblazers, based around the motor vehicle service
and maintenance technician standard (which is already ready for delivery) the
panel opened up to questions around qualifications. Twigg also explained the
Trailblazer process in 5 steps to make it more understandable.
If the new standards remove the need for current
qualifications, how does this affect the assessment process? And from that, how
do we still utilise the program with those who may need the lower level
‘qualification’ or additional help? The
panel explained that there will be some form of ‘qualification’ at the end of
the scheme, however it will be different to that of the current system. The
motor industry for example will have ‘fast fix’ employees and higher skilled
workers for those harder to do jobs. Clearly there is still some fine tweaking
to do to ensure that the assessing is the same across all apprentices and
So after a day of conferencing and workshops, we can take
away from this a number of helpful points. The Employer Levy is going ahead and
we shouldn’t worry and whilst there is still a few wrinkles to straighten out
over the new trailblazer apprenticeships, they are being sorted too. Quality
assurance may be a concern now, but once this is addressed and picked up
through the tweaks already in process, the future looks exciting for