Apprenticeship Staff Support projects kick-off in Birmingham

25 June 2014

Fourteen successful lead bidders met in Birmingham on 25 June to kick-off the start of the Apprenticeship Staff Support Programme (ASSP), funded by The Education and Training Foundation, managed by AELP and supported by NIACE and other partners.

The programme – also supported by AoC, 157 Group, HOLEX and the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce – will provide development support that will improve the quality and professional capacity of provider staff to deliver effective Apprenticeship programmes. The production of resources that can be disseminated across the breadth of the vocational education and training sector will facilitate continuous improvement.

After a robust and competitive tendering process, fourteen organisations were awarded funding to take their projects forward, each focusing on one or both of the following strands:

  1. Securing and further developing employer involvement in Apprenticeship delivery.
  2. Further improving curriculum development, and teaching, learning and assessment on Apprenticeship programmes.

Projects are operating in all nine regions of England and are working across a range of occupational sectors. Many of the lead bidders are working as a consortium with other providers, with some having clear links with the Apprenticeship Trailblazers. Phase 1 of the £1.5m programme will run from June to December 2014, and all resources and materials produced will be hosted on a new ASSP website for all Apprenticeship staff to access.

Caroline Berry, NIACE’s Head of Learning In and for the Workplace, said:

“Apprenticeships are at the centre of government policy to develop the skills of the workforce. They provide an opportunity for every apprentice to acquire the transferable skills they need not simply for a job, but for a long, fulfilling career and for life. It is a long-term commitment by an apprentice and an employer on the journey from novice towards expert. However, within any programme there is always room to improve, innovate and learn from best practice. So while the quantity of Apprenticeships has increased, quality remains variable and equality of access remains a significant challenge.

“We are delighted to work with partners across the sector to help deliver the Apprenticeship Staff Support Programme. It provides a valuable opportunity to enhance the professional development of practitioners, improve the quality of Apprenticeships and ultimately the outcomes for learners. I am sure today’s launch event in Birmingham with the 14 successful lead bidders will be full of energy and innovative ideas. I am looking forward to seeing how the projects approach this challenge and am keen that good practice is shared widely. The dissemination conference planned for early 2015 will help achieve this.”

Paul Warner, AELP’s Director of Employment and Skills and Chair of the ASSP Steering Group, said:

“In the context of a recovering economy and high youth unemployment, the Coalition government has placed a good deal of emphasis on Apprenticeships as the flagship programme to gain skills and sustained employment. The current Apprenticeship programme has seen much success – 800,000 apprentices on programme, 500,000 starts each year, with satisfaction ratings remaining high. In recent months, the government have proposed a number of radical reforms to ‘put employers in the driving seat’ when it comes to the design of Apprenticeship standards, assessment requirements, English and maths delivery and funding. For Apprenticeships to continue to be a success and adaptable in meeting the needs of learners and employers, it is crucial that practitioners and the wider Apprenticeship workforce receive the support and resources needed to continually improve engagement with employers and continue to drive up the quality of teaching, learning and assessment. The Apprenticeship Staff Support Programme seeks to do just that.”

The fourteen successful lead bidders are: Southampton Engineering Training Association Limited (SETA), South Tyneside College, Norfolk County Council Adult Education Service, Babington Business College, Capital Training Group, East London Advanced Technology Training, Bedford College, Gloucestershire College, Economic Solutions Ltd, In Touch Care Ltd, Petroc College, Pera Training Limited, Lifetime Training Group, and Bury College.