One crucial change will be the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April. Getting apprenticeships right for the workplace depends on involvement and investment from employers. The levy will put apprenticeship funding on a sustainable footing whilst enabling growth in the number of new career opportunities. And we want employers to recruit from the widest spectrum of our communities so that an apprenticeship can transform the lives – and careers – of many individuals.

 

A look back at 2016

 

The year saw a continued and relentless focus on quality – the new Institute for Apprenticeships will soon act as the ‘guarantor’ for high quality. At the same time, the new apprenticeship Standards are helping develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours that employers are shouting out for to meet their business priorities.  

2016 was also the year where the Apprenticeship Delivery Board, (ADB) chaired by David Meller, showed its impact. All the members used their influence to open doors and a dialogue with a wide range of employers at the highest levels – including many who had never engaged with apprenticeships before. We recognise that the reforms can seem daunting due to the scale of change to apprenticeships. But these changes will bring benefits and the ADB has shown the value of having strong relationships and listening to employers.

 

A pledge for progression

 

Because employers do want to connect with apprenticeships. In March 2016, during National Apprenticeship Week, over 32,000 apprenticeship pledges were made by employers; enthused by the theme of progression from entry level roles to higher and Degree apprenticeships.

But for me, apprenticeships are all about people. In June, I was at the Brathay Apprentice Challenge – a fantastic competition that employers support by putting their apprentice teams through a series of tough challenges to be recognised as Apprentice Team of the Year. The team from the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority deservedly won - demonstrating skill, determination and a huge passion for apprenticeships.

Another highlight this year was the Skills Show in November - the annual skills event attended by 78,000 young people, parents and employers. A showcase of sheer talent and ability from young people. I got to meet Daisy Coombes, an apprentice from JCB, who was inspiring others to follow her career path. Daisy is also one of 13 apprentice stars in the current ‘Get In Go Far’ campaign, highlighting the range and scope of apprenticeships on offer. Nothing can beat industry experience!

 

A bright outlook for 2017

 

And now it’s already 2017. National Apprenticeship Week takes place from 6-10 March – we want this to be the best yet. It is our tenth anniversary!

2016 was a good year for apprenticeships, let’s make 2017 great!