30/10/2013 10:45 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

It's Time for the Age of the Enhanced Apprenticeship

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister set out how our country's apprentices need to be not just be the best in Europe, but the best in the world.

The government's Apprenticeship reforms have been designed to put employers in the driving seat, but in today's highly competitive economic climate, turning the dream of having the best apprentices in the world is not just the responsibility of employers and government.

Everyone who is passionate about Apprenticeships needs to make sure that the idea of a 'normal' Apprenticeship experience is not acceptable. We need every apprentice to have an 'enhanced' Apprenticeship experience.

By an enhanced Apprenticeship, I mean that as well as the technical skills and the maths and English that all apprentices need to learn while they earn, apprentices will also receive formal opportunities to prove their team building, leadership, logistical and communications skills.

In this way, creating enhanced Apprenticeships will not just benefit the employers, but the apprentices themselves.

Employers will benefit by providing apprentices with even more skills by taking part in team building, leadership, logistical and communications activity and apprentices will become more employable.

What's more, enhanced Apprenticeships can be easily delivered by employers by involving apprentices in corporate social responsibility activities or entering competitions such as the Brathay Apprentice Challenge.

And this week we're launching the 2014 Brathay Apprentice Challenge - the search for the official apprentice team of the year.

We are now in the third year of running the Brathay Apprentice Challenge with the support of the National Apprenticeship Service.

It is a tough challenge that puts apprentices through their paces by testing their team building, leadership, logistical and communications abilities in a series of challenges including awareness raising and community projects.

Last year, entrants to the Brathay Apprentice Challenge raised £35,000 for charity, conducted over 300 school visits educating young people on the benefits of Apprenticeships and delivered over 60 community projects ranging from renovating derelict empty spaces to holding CV drop-in for local youngsters.

The eventual winners of the 2013 Challenge, Innovia Films, reported that taking part in the Challenge allowed their apprentices to develop a huge range of skills. These are skills that were not only useful within the Challenge, but essential for the workplace.

Innovia and other teams taking part in the Brathay Apprentice Challenge in 2012 and 2013 reported that:

  • Apprentices gained team building, leadership, logistical and communications skills.
  • Employers saw improved skills among the competing apprentices and increased local profile of their organisations through positive PR and CSR opportunities
  • Important information about the benefits of Apprenticeships was delivered direct by apprentices to schools and local communities

Teams of nine apprentices entering the Brathay Apprentice Challenge can be made up all from a single employer, a group of small businesses, an industry sector, supply chain or training provider.

This means all businesses have the opportunity to show the country what their up-and-coming stars can do - and offer enhanced Apprenticeships.

For more information on the Brathay Apprentice Challenge and to apply visit