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Trailblazer Times

Welcome from our Deputy Director

Welcome to the Spring edition of the Trailblazer Times.  Since the last edition we have published 20 new apprenticeship standards and welcomed more employer groups, who have come forward with 28 bids to develop 49 new apprenticeship standards for occupations as diverse as prison officer and countryside worker.  11 more Assessment Plans have been approved, which means employers can now move to taking on their first apprentices on the new standards.  It's an exciting time! 

This edition, coinciding as it does with National Apprenticeship Week, includes some exciting facts about how apprenticeships have developed since the last National Apprenticeship Week, how you can get involved in events during the week and includes updates on various  issues ranging from the planned Institute for Apprenticeships to changes to the national minimum wage. 

Regards to all,

Carl Creswell
Deputy Director of the Routes into Apprenticeships and Work unit.

National Apprenticeship Week 2016

National Apprenticeship Week is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy. The week will show how Apprenticeships enable businesses to rise to the top of their sectors, through hundreds of events taking place all over the country.

Did you know

  • there were more than 250,000 employer workplaces with an apprentice in 2014/15?
  • almost nine out of every ten apprenticeship employers hoping to achieve business benefits tell us that apprenticeships deliver and 89% of employers reported that apprenticeships helped their business improve the quality of their product or service?
  • according to research published in June 2015, apprenticeships at Level 2 and Level 3 deliver £26 and £28 of economic benefits respectively for each pound of government investment?;
  • apprenticeships boost productivity to businesses by an average of £214 per week?
  • there are more than 140 Trailblazers, involving more than 1300 employers with 205 standards published (of which over 60 are higher and degree apprenticeships) and more than 150 new standards in development? 

National Apprenticeship Week focusses on progression and opportunity as a way to showcase the rich and diverse apprenticeship offer, from traineeships right through to higher and degree apprenticeships.

Last year, it was a phenomenal success, with over 600 events held all around the country to showcase apprentices and apprentice employers.  The week saw another 200 businesses joining the Trailblazer programme to design high quality apprenticeships and also the launch of degree apprenticeships. Businesses pledged 23,000 apprenticeships, an increase from 20,000 the previous year.

This year we want to encourage even more businesses to share their pledges for apprenticeships and traineeships using our online Pledge-o-meter. A national events map is available through so you can find out what is happening in your area.

Please see attached a cheat sheet to help you publicise National Apprenticeship week.

Update on the new Institute for Apprenticeships

The new Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) will be launched in April 2017. The IfA will support the Governments apprenticeship reforms to deliver a genuinely world-class apprenticeship programme for England, with 3 million new starts by 2020. Crucially, it will ensure that the apprenticeships that are approved genuinely deliver the skills that employers need. Clauses in the Enterprise Bill establishing the IfA as a statutory body and setting out its proposed functions have been approved by the Commons, and now pass to the Lords for their consideration. You can find more information about the Bill clauses here:

On 8 March, we announced the appointment of Rachel Sandby-Thomas CB as shadow CEO. Rachel brings wide experience, most recently as the Director General for Skills, Deregulation and Local Growth, to this new role. Work is also underway to identify a suitable Shadow Chair, and we expect to be in a position to announce their appointment soon. Later this year we shall start to appoint IfA board members via the public appointments process. To ensure that the IfA truly represents the needs of employers, the board will primarily comprise employers, business leaders and their representatives. We are grateful to employers for their continued interest in and commitment to the Apprenticeships programme and will continue to provide updates as the IfA is established.

Apprenticeships in the Public Sector

The public sector has traditionally employed comparatively fewer apprentices than the private sector.  Increasing apprenticeships in the public sector is essential if we are to build skills and opportunities across the whole of the UK economy and deliver the commitment of 3 million new apprenticeship opportunities by 2020.

The new Enterprise Bill introduces legislation which provides a power for the Secretary of State to set apprenticeship targets for prescribed public sector bodies in England. These bodies should have regard to the targets and report annually on their progress.

The intention is to improve the capability of the public sector workforce and ensure that it experiences the same positive benefits that apprenticeships bring to the rest of the economy. 

The target will apply to prescribed bodies with a workforce of 250 or more employees in England and be set at 2.3% apprenticeship starts per year of that workforce.  Civil Service Departments are already leading the way and have set themselves the 2.3% target from 1 January 2016.

Consultation on the target closed on 4 March. A Government response will be published in due course. The target and bodies in scope will be set out in regulations and the duty will come into force in late 2016.

Spotlight on the National Living Wage; changes are coming

From 1st April 2016, most workers in the UK aged 25 and over will be entitled to the National Living Wage (NLW) of £7.20 per hour. This will apply to apprentices in the same way as the existing National Minimum Wage.

Apprentices aged 19 and above and in the second year of study are entitled to the age-related rate. This means apprentices in their second year and aged;

-           25 years and above are entitled to the NLW of £7.20

-           21 to 24 years are entitled to £6.70

-           19 to 20 years are entitled to £5.30

Apprentices aged below 19 are entitled to £3.30 per hour, although many employers choose to pay more than this.  Evidence suggests around one in seven apprentices are paid less than the NMW; much higher than the non-apprenticeship population.

To help avoid making the most common mistakes, as an employer you need to make sure you:

  • Pay for training time (at college) and working time. Travel and sleeping time must also be accurately counted
  • Monitor the age of the apprentice.
  • Monitor when the apprentice moves into their second year, as those aged 19+ and in their second year are entitled to the age-related rate.
  • Apply the Apprentice NMW for official apprenticeships beginning from the agreed apprenticeship start date.
  • Take into account any employer-provided accommodation when calculating the NMW, but it must be in line with the law.
  • Don't include tools, uniform and safety equipment in NMW calculations.

As an employer, it is your responsibility to pay workers at least the NMW and from April the NLW. If you have underpaid a worker you must correct this immediately.  Employers who don't get this right are likely to be faced with enforcement action including an increased penalty fine and naming & shaming.

Trailblazer Events - spreading the word

Employers and training organisations are getting the opportunity to find out more about apprenticeship standards at events hosted by trailblazer groups this month and next month, to help Trailblazers share the new standards with others in their sector and promote starts. Detailed information on the standard, end-point assessment requirements, funding and lessons from early adopter training organisations are amongst the agenda items. The butchery event also includes input from one of the first apprentices enrolled on the butcher level 2 standard. Whether it's advanced manufacturing, leadership & management or golf green-keeping, the aim is the same - to generate high quality starts on ready for delivery standards.  Feedback so far suggests this is an excellent way to spread the word.  If you are interested in hosting an event, please speak with your Relationship Manager.

Forthcoming events include:


15 - Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump, London.

16 - Leadership & Management, Manchester:

17 - Aero/Auto/Advanced manufacturing, Derby:

17 - Surveying, London:

22 - Butchery, London:

23 - Energy & Utilities, Solihull:

23 - Nuclear, Manchester:


5 - Aero/Auto/Advanced manufacturing, Humberside:

20 - Aero/Auto/Advanced manufacturing, Bristol:

Useful links and diary dates

A new National Apprenticeship Service guide has been published to give employers the information and benefits of recruiting apprentices to their business.  The guide also offers information for employers considering offering traineeships to young people. With traineeships, businesses have the opportunity to build a pool of high-quality future recruits for their sector, while helping young people take their first steps toward employment.

National Apprenticeship Week: 14-18 March 2016

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