Prime Minister David Cameron has announced new, tougher apprenticeship schemes that will be provided by major IT companies such as Accenture, BT and Microsoft.
Changes are being made to apprenticeships in response to the Richard Review, to put more emphasis on “academic rigour” so that the schemes rival higher and further education. It is also hoped that the employer involvement will make the schemes more relevant to industry.
Addressing hundreds of young apprentices yesterday, Cameron said: “The reforms we’re announcing today will put employers in the driving seat and ensure that we deliver high-quality training that supports you and our economy for years to come.”
He added: “We’re saying, if you need help preparing for an apprenticeship or want to get straight into the world of work, we’ll help you too. We’ve been talking to some of the biggest companies in Britain, massive global brands where young people have a real opportunity to progress up the ladder, and they have said they want to offer 100,000 vocational training schemes for young people.”
More than 60 companies, referred to as ‘Trailblazers’, are ready to start developing the new apprenticeship scheme to go live from the end of 2014, according to the government.
One of the first trailblazer sectors is digital industries, which includes employers Accenture, BT, Capgemini, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft and The Test Factory.
These employers will be co-ordinated by sector skills council e-skills UK in developing tougher, industry-specific apprenticeship standards in software development and networking.
The standards will be simpler to understand and the requirements for maths and English skills will be more rigorous.
Furthermore, apprentices will have a minimum of 20 percent “off-the-job” training, so that they can focus on training away from their workstation.
BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, will support the work, to ensure that future technology apprenticeships offer a route to professional accreditation.
The first apprentices will trial the new standards in the 2014/15 academic year, with all apprenticeships moving to the new system by 2017/18, if the new framework is successful.
The apprenticeships will last a minimum of one year.
Ann Brown, senior vice-president of HR at Capgemini, said: “The development of these new standards by employers for employers has the potential to transform the role of apprenticeships within the tech sector. It could make hiring an apprentice less bureaucratic and assure businesses of all sizes that their apprentice will learn the skills they really need.”
Karen Price, CEO at e-skills UK, added: “Our aspiration is to make apprenticeships as popular a route into the digital industries as graduate entry.
“We know that the appetite for apprenticeships is already there from young people. We hope that by putting employers in control, this new approach will encourage many more firms to recruit school leavers and use apprenticeships to develop the skilled technology workforce the nation needs.”
Other trailblazer sectors include aerospace, automotive, electrical, energy, financial services, food and drink and life sciences.
New vocational schemes
Meanwhile, Accenture, BAE Systems, Barclays, BT, Centrica, Diageo, GlaxoSmithKline, HSBC, Kingfisher, Marks & Spencer, National Grid, Tesco, Unilever and WPP have all pledged new vocational training schemes.
The aim of these is to involve the supply chain of each of these large companies, including SMEs, to offer 100,000 work training opportunities over the next two years.
Find your next job with computerworld UK jobs