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AELP 2016: What we learnt from day one

Wednesday June 29, 2016 at 10:30am

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 lies.


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 inside.”



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 training programs.


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 apprenticeships.

» Categories: Blog


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