WANTED! Learner input on the future of apprenticeships.
A body to represent the apprentice community, their views and experiences of apprenticeships and how they can be improved has previously been missing from the political and educational landscape. This is where the Industry Apprentice Council (IAC) steps in.
The IAC is giving learners something they have not had before - a national voice. The changing landscape of apprenticeships in this country, as Government endeavours to secure the vocational route as a central pathway into fulfilling careers, requires input from those who will be affected - the apprentices themselves.
At EAL, we recognised the need for a representative body of apprentices in the UK. After all, who knows apprenticeships better than the learners themselves? This is why we started speaking with our customers, as a specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications, and gauging their interest in such a body. After all, it was their apprentices who would be required to participate. Would these young people be interested? Would the apprentices care enough to give up their time to discuss the issues affecting the vocational pathway, develop a campaign and promote their views in parliament, among their peers and in the media? As it turns out, yes they are all of those things and more. In fact, I have never met such as passionate, dedicated and intelligent group of apprentices as those who came together to form the IAC.
We had a great response from employers too. Airbus, BAE Systems, Caunton Engineering, DAF Trucks, Ford Dealerships, Ford GB, KMF, MBDA, National Grid, Nestlé, Rolls Royce and Vauxhall all put forward an apprentice to take part in the IAC. Their support has been remarkable and their apprentices a revelation. While the group has been meeting regularly since the start of the year, their official launch took place in May, at a Parliamentary reception, and they have already achieved so much since then.
More companies have wanted to come on board. The Welsh Government has inquired, so they could get a blueprint for potentially setting up their own apprentice council. Parliamentarians have hailed it as a brilliant initiative and agreed to work with the IAC. Conferences and events have requested the presence of IAC members and even invited them to speak on the podium to delegates from key education organisations.
The most recent meeting of the IAC involved a team from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) who are working on Government's apprenticeship policy following the Richard Review. When discussing apprenticeships and potential changes to the pathway, the apprentices' passion really stood out. They put forward their views on overall apprenticeship grading (for), end of point assessment (against), better promotion and advertising for the vocational pathway, including improvements to the NAS website, and careers advice in schools, to name just a few subjects covered. The BIS team, who were asked to meet the IAC by Skills Minister Matthew Hancock MP, took some great ideas back to their office and hopefully the apprentices' views will help shape the future of apprenticeships for the better.
EAL is proud to found, fund and support the IAC. It is our way of investing back in the industries we serve, as an awarding organisation. The IAC's success is already apparent and we hope they will continue to be successful as the voice of industry apprentices - ensuring they get their rightful say on the future of apprenticeships.