Apprenticeships and why technology enabled learning matters

We recently published a paper on the impact of the apprenticeship levy. It is possible that Brexit will delay the launch of the levy but organisations with a wage bill of more than £3m are certain to be asked to contribute to the investment in apprenticeship schemes in the near future. The aim is to create more than three million new ‘high quality’ apprenticeships. So what will be the hallmarks of a high quality programme? How will it engage and support young people in obtaining the requisite work experience and access to great quality training that they’ll need to thrive? The levy works two ways; to fund the schemes and to incentivise companies to make use of their investment by appointing Apprentices themselves as part of their recruitment strategy. Companies as diverse as PwC and Penguin[1] have announced their intention to scrap their graduate-only recruitment schemes.  Conversely, the apprenticeship schemes themselves are increasingly including this as a route to highly-regarded degrees without the debt burden.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: “The Department for Education needs to chart and follow a course from having a lot of apprenticeships to having the right apprenticeships in order to help improve the UK’s productivity and achieve value for money, in return for the costs of the programme.”

Increasingly, quality is seen as the most significant feature and there is considerable emphasis on standards and the Trailblazers. But having created the standard, enabling companies to work seamlessly with educating bodies and awarding organisations with the apprentice at the heart is key to this. Having apprenticeships working in diverse locations with tailored programmes is not easy. The original quality of each apprenticeship is fundamental and so is the ability to structure the learning with the working environment. Equally, apprentices need to know how they fit, how they are doing, to be able to collaborate with other apprentices potentially in different locations and to be able to tap into help as and when needed. Features to look out for in enabling technology: A common interface for the apprentice, the training organisation and the line manager.

  • Clear steps for the apprentice to follow as their journey to qualification unfolds
  • An ability to seed the learning paths with assignments that reflect their learning in the workplace.
  • Assignment capability that allow the apprentice to upload evidence in any format for review, feedback and assessment
  • Capability for the End Point Assessment (EPA) body to evaluate the outcome
  • Opportunities for apprentices to collaborate with others

The reality for many FE Colleges and others is that the internal software used on campus  is fit for that purpose but does not necessarily translate well when used across different companies. Those that adopt software that bridges that gap will stand out. [1]