One month on from the national launch of the reformed apprenticeship programme designed to provoke a dramatic change in how businesses approach training for staff, one south west training provider is already celebrating the uptake in apprenticeships and opportunities for those vocationally trained.
The apprenticeship levy came into force at the start of April with larger companies paying into the funds based on the size of their payroll. At the same time smaller employers are now required to make a financial contribution towards the cost of the apprenticeship training.
The new Standards will replace all the existing Frameworks by 2020
All apprenticeship programmes are being brought up to date and in line with the needs of industry. The new Standards will replace all the existing Frameworks by 2020, creating higher quality and relevant training for apprentices and happier employers.
Acacia Training and Development has been delivering apprenticeships since their inception in the 1990’s and is leading the way by immediately applying changes to enhance all of their apprenticeships, giving their apprentices better industry focused and transferrable skills.
The value of work based learning
Acacia is one of the first training providers to fully adopt the new Apprenticeship Standard for the Health and Social Care sector. Written by industry experts with end point assessment of knowledge and understanding, the Acacia team say that it has raised the standards of the apprenticeship, which us why they were keen to adopt it as soon as possible:
“We really believe in the value of work based learning as a viable alternative to a purely College/University route. Our staff love a challenge and the changes in Apprenticeship Standards is certainly the biggest challenge that we have faced to date.
“I am so proud that the team have made the decision to go for the new Adult Care Standard from day one as we want apprentices to receive our best training and employers to see the benefit of investing in workforce development. Once again we are leading the way and employers are keen to work with us knowing that we have Centre of Excellence status, awarded by Skills for Care,” explained Hazel Lessiter, Operations Director, Acacia Training and Development.
Acacia already have 800 apprentices in the care sector with 300 employed by Somerset Care.
It is possible that the new apprenticeship standards may present some major challenges to the FE sector. However, the changes also present a massive opportunity to develop collaborative approaches with employers towards the development of inspiring training programmes that will embed the knowledge and skills much needed by the British workforce in the current economy.
Apprenticeship reforms have a significant benefit for the apprenticeship industry
With over 25 years experience Acacia provide training from Bristol all the way down and throughout Devon and Cornwall, along with adopting the new standards to better their offering they have also undergone a rebrand and update, saying the new look aims to modernise not only their look but their offering, and to showcase their quality credentials.
Judith Smith, Learning & Development Manager of Somerset Care Group says: “We have just over 300 apprentices and are looking forward to using the levy to further maximise our workforce. We work with Acacia Training and Development due to their high quality training and professionalism. They hold the Centre of Excellence award from Skills for Care and are the only training provider in the South West to achieve this, which means a great deal to us as a social care provider.”
Changing out-dated perceptions of apprenticeships
Overall, the apprenticeship reforms have a significant benefit for the apprenticeship industry. Not only does it mean more care and support is given to apprentices throughout their apprenticeship, but it also improves the quality of the programmes provided.
“The changes will ensure that people come out of their training completely confident that they are capable of doing job roles that they have been prepared for. It also means for the first time that Apprentices will be graded, rather than receive a simple pass or fail.
“Changing out-dated perceptions of apprenticeships is something that Acacia has strived to do in more recent years, and thanks to the introduction of the levy, many employers who previously only offered graduate programmes are now seeing apprenticeships as the solution to skills gaps at higher levels, and plan to recruit high level and degree apprentices instead.”
The new apprenticeship standards that are being created following the Government reform have more emphasis on developing an apprentices’ career path, making sure that both the employer and the apprentice are excited about the opportunities that they provide.
Centre of Excellence Status
The highest level of learning and development provider endorsement currently available from Skills for Care. Centres of Excellence have evidenced that they not only have high quality systems and processes in place that meet the learner needs but also; their leadership and management, quality assurance, staff development and support of the learner is significantly robust. Every aspect of what learning providers do, is assessed against set criteria to evidence; currency, appropriateness, differentiation, meeting learner needs and displaying high levels of success, which is based on evidence, provided from both internal and external sources. Mark Poland. Quality and Assessment Manager, Skills for Care