Apprenticeships in the UK
Since the end of the Second World War, apprenticeships have flourished, declined, and are now fully flourishing again.
The 1950’s saw the country’s high technology activity grow in its use of apprentices to bring in the potential for new ideas, skills and nurture their own talent. This included four different types; technician, higher technician, craft and graduate. All were distinguished by length of their apprenticeships as well as the duration and location of their academic studies.
In the mid ‘60’s the UK Industry Training Boards were established to raise the quality of available training, and alter the financial structure, with employers bearing the costs.
As a result the take up of apprenticeship recruitment from the mid-‘60’s to the mid-‘70’s reached its highest level.
As the ‘70’s moved into the ‘80’s recession began to bite, and many heavy industries, such as shipbuilding entered terminal decline and as unemployment rose, so apprentice training fell. The only sector to continue the upward trend was the high tech sector.
The government introduced the NVQ, National Vocational Qualifications in the later ‘80’s to help bolster apprenticeship training. These are work related competence based qualifications. They show the skills and knowledge necessary to do a job effectively and show that they are competent in the field to which the NVQ framework represents.
NVQs have enabled millions of people the opportunity of achieving formal qualifications in almost every imaginable trade and profession.
Since 2009 there has been the National Apprenticeship Service which was created to manage and coordinate the different apprentice frameworks. Each framework consists of basic elements of knowledge, competence, transferable skills and employee rights and responsibilities that go together to make an apprenticeship.
A modern development in apprenticeship training is the advent of Trailblazers, which is an employer led concept to both standardise frameworks and open new standards for jobs which have never had apprenticeship programmes before.
Trailblazers are groups of employers, usually a minimum of ten, who express an interest in developing a standard for a specific type of job. If the criteria satisfy the government department for approval it is developed into an assessment plan, which, again, if approved, becomes a standard and will be allocated appropriate funding.
These new apprenticeship standards are designed by employers to meet the requirements of employers in that sector.
This new apprenticeship programme will ensure that apprentice will be precisely honed in the skills and competence the Trailblazing employers need.