Anne Milton: ensuring apprenticeship standards remain high

Apr 18, 2019 | Apprentices & school leaver

Skills minister Anne Milton writes about the apprenticeship reforms and the drive to ensure standards remain high.

One of the very best parts about my job is meeting apprentices and employers and hearing their amazing stories.

Apprentices make a huge contribution to businesses and bring enthusiasm, passion and new ideas into the workplace. Employers have reported enormous benefits to their business such as improved productivity, and critically the fresh ideas apprentices bring to their organisation.


National Apprenticeship Week

National Apprenticeships Week ran in March, which is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the amazing opportunities apprenticeships offer. It was a record-breaking year, with over 1000 events taking place across the country! During the week I travelled to Bolton, Bristol, Devon, Cornwall, Bradford and East London, meeting apprentices of all ages and backgrounds as well as their employers and training providers to hear about their extraordinary journeys.

Wherever I went, there was one common theme: how apprenticeships can transform people’s lives; the impact they make on people’s futures; and the positive energy they bring to employers.

No one should be denied the opportunity to learn new skills and go on to get a great job and career. Whether it’s a young person looking at their next steps, someone who is looking to get back into work after a break or someone who fancies a career change, an apprenticeship is a fantastic opportunity. Apprenticeships offer people the chance to earn while they learn with the option to train right up to degree level in a huge range of professions and careers.


Apprenticeship reforms

We reformed the apprenticeships system almost two years ago – working with employers to design the new system because it is employers and not government who are best placed to decide what skills apprentices need for their businesses.

We also introduced the Levy to create long term sustainable funding for apprenticeships.
Apprenticeships are now longer, higher quality, with more off-the- job training and a proper assessment at the end.

There are now more than 400 of our new high-quality apprenticeship opportunities – known as ‘standards’ – available in every profession, such as civil engineering, cyber security, architecture, law, nursing and teaching, with the number of different standards having increased over the last year. 

The number of people starting on our new style apprenticeship standards has risen by over 86% in the first quarter of 2018/19 compared to the same point last year – a sure sign that things are improving!

Royal Mail, Channel 4, Barclays, and BAE are just some of the leading employers offering people of all ages and backgrounds a chance to learn new skills and get a great job.

We know there is more to do. Our reforms were designed and driven by employers and we want to be sure standards remain high. 

The Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education has built a network of over 100 industry leaders across 15 sectors to make sure apprentices are job-ready.

We also recently announced that we would introduce a new leader board and quality mark. The new leader board will recognise and promote outstanding apprentice employers, encourage employers to improve the quality of their apprentice offer, and help potential apprentices and parents to easily identify opportunities with high performing employers.


Challenging outdated attitudes

To help change perception, we have launched our brilliant new apprenticeships campaign to challenge the outdated view of apprenticeships and to raise awareness of the huge variety of options available for people of all ages and backgrounds across the country. Our real live apprentice stars are of all ages and backgrounds. There’s Sarah, who is retraining as a nursing assistant in her 50s and then there is 20-year-old Megan who is training to be a building design engineer at construction firm Troup, Bywaters & Anders. Their stories and journeys are truly inspirational.

I am hugely proud of the progress we have made, and we make sure everyone knows about how great apprenticeships are. Please check out our new website to find out more about how you can help kick start someone’s career today and benefit your business by taking on an apprentice. Let’s continue to work together to spread the word and help change more lives for the better!

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