Institute for Learning
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IfL comments on apprenticeships implementation plan

The Institute for Learning (IfL) has commented on the government’s decision to put apprenticeship design in England in the hands of employers, as outlined in its newly published implementation plan.

IfL policy officer Shane Chowen said, “The real test of the reforms announced in the implementation plan will be whether more businesses get involved and offer more apprenticeship opportunities, particularly for young people.

“To ensure maximum value for apprentices, employers and the taxpayer, the training provided must be inspiring, relevant, well planned and expertly delivered. That’s why we support teachers, trainers and assessors being highly trained and qualified.
“IfL agrees with the government that apprenticeships should be responsive and rigorous programmes that provide the skills, knowledge and competencies to succeed in the workplace. High quality of training is fundamental to a successful apprenticeship system.

“With this in mind, we are cautious about what appears to be the mirroring of other qualification reforms in the name of rigour – namely, universal terminal and synoptic assessment. While there is evidence in vocational education and training (VET) systems across the world of synoptic, ‘end of apprenticeship’ assessments, such as the Swiss Federal Vocational Baccalaureate, these can become quite academic in practice, particularly in higher-level apprenticeships. Work-based assessment can be rigorous without mirroring academic assessment methods.
“The ‘Trailblazer projects’ could be a good way of testing these proposals, including how assessment of skilful work is best carried out, and we look forward to seeing what the projects produce. In particular, it will be interesting to see how the new standards develop; the flexibility these provide to small businesses – again a feature in internationally renowned VET systems; and the long-term educational and employment opportunities for apprentices.”

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