How to get an effective apprenticeship programme

The Apprenticeship Levy gives employers the power to raise the quality of apprentice training, argues Godfrey Owen, Brathay's Chief Executive

Steph McGovern, BBC Breakfast Business Correspondent, recently quizzed interviewees on the new Apprenticeship policy. I was struck by the comments made by the CIPD representative about their concerns that poor quality training could result from the new policy. The FE representative did not share these concerns, but it is understandable that some employers will want to know how to reduce the risk of mediocre training provision by Apprenticeship Providers. I believe, however, that the power to raise the quality of apprentice training has been put squarely in the hands of the employer.

The underlying driver behind Government policy is to put employers at the centre of decision making; Trailblazers require the sector to come together to design standards that are fit for purpose; Levy payments certainly concentrate the minds of employers, and the Digital Account gives them much more control over choice of providers. The challenge for employers is to ensure they negotiate the detail of the apprentice programmes they are procuring, and not take a standard offer from the supplier, as many have done in the past.

At Brathay we provide programmes that are highly effective at developing behaviours and attitudes within the new Standards. To develop employable apprentices, employers must ensure that their apprentices have the technical skills and knowledge but also the behaviours, habits and aspiration.

The new policy gives employers the opportunity to include Brathay’s behaviour-focused modules within their Levy funded programmes. This is a change from previous positions when the enhanced apprenticeships were the preserve of larger organisations that could afford to provide additional training for their apprentices. SMEs (who don’t pay the Levy) also have control over their provision. Providers that do not enhance their apprenticeships with specialist modules that address behavioural development are in danger of being seen as under-delivering against the standards, and their apprentices may not pass end assessments.

Employers must engage as early as possible with their Registered Provider, and ensure that the behaviours that they value are genuinely and explicitly being developed within the apprentice programme. Don’t be afraid to suggest (firmly) that specialists can be brought in as sub-contractors, which, while reducing the margin for the main contractor, will significantly enhance the learning of your apprentices.

Of course, there are many training providers who have for a long time seen the value of explicitly developing behaviours and attitudes as well as skills and knowledge – Brathay partners with some great Registered Providers and we would be delighted to put you in touch with them. That way, employers will get an integrated programme that develops apprentices that really will become the next generation to lead your business in the future.

Brathay work nationally with apprentice providers enhancing technical programmes with excellent behavioural development. Contact us to find out how you can integrate a funded Brathay module into your apprentice programme.

Please also see our news and views on apprenticeships and read our Apprenticeship Levy Guide