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Apprenticeships 2022

Levelling up across the apprenticeship system

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Callum Clark

Head of Programme, The Apprenticeships Conference 2022

What it takes to deliver bold action on quality and delivery to level up outcomes for the future of apprentice and tackle disadvantage.

The Challenge

The need for levelling up across the apprenticeships system has never been more apparent and the government has made the skills agenda a core pillar of its levelling up white paper, committing to significant increases in high quality skills training in every area by 2030. Regional disparities in uptake, weak access routes for disadvantaged students and the collapse of entry-level programmes have highlighted the needs for a rebalancing of the apprenticeship system.

For a levelled up apprenticeships system to work there is a need for a diverse sector offering, supporting improved engagement with SMEs, enhanced opportunities for under 25’s and a market that supports strong entry routes into apprenticeship programmes at all levels.

The sector is calling for growth and expansion that meets the needs of employers, delivers genuine development for new recruits and crucially matches the skills and productivity needs of all regions.

Bold action is needed to transform access to the apprenticeships system.

Entry Level Routes and Access

Bold action is needed to transform access to the apprenticeships system. With higher and degree apprenticeships now dominating the market, disadvantaged students looking for entry routes into lower level schemes with local employers are struggling to gain entry.

Concerted action can be delivered on assessing local demand and matching it to the skills and employment needs of a region. Yet, this will take coordinated action from employers, providers and sector leaders to commit to rebalancing access routes.

Meeting Industry Needs through Quality

For a levelled up apprenticeships system to really work, programmes delivered need to be able to meet the needs of regional economies and provide a spring board for growth in regions facing disparities. It’s now more important than ever for industry and providers to work together to deliver ambitious efforts on quality and programme delivery.

The Covid-19 pandemic has provided a jump-start to innovation and overhauls in programme transformation. Hybrid course design, high quality co-creation and new approaches to pedagogy will be critical in ensuring apprenticeship schemes reflect the demand of the industries of the future and the skills needs of the long term.

A Call for Action

The time is now for a levelling up revolution across the sector, opening up diverse and dynamic offerings that will support the needs of all regions, industries and most importantly, the apprentices themselves. This will require bold thinking, continued innovation and an ongoing pursuit for quality. The system does not just require funding and ongoing reform, but sustained action on practice and delivery by providers and employers.

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