According to Semta, the not-for-profit employer-led body tasked with securing the sector’s skills pipeline, the new Institute for Apprenticeships policy of allowing off-the-job technical qualifications in apprenticeships will be welcomed by the engineering sector.
Following a change to the Institute’s guidance, off-the-job technical qualifications, such as technical certificates that show evidence of knowledge, will be allowed to be included in apprenticeship standards if employers are willing to cover the costs of registration and certification.
The move is part of a wider drive by the Institute to make the process of apprenticeship standards development faster and better. Commenting on the change in policy, Ann Watson, Semta Chief Executive, said: “We very much welcome the Institute’s changes as they begin to reflect the very strong feeling on the importance of qualifications in apprenticeship standards from engineering sector employers. The new rules will make it easier for many employers to structure off-the-job training, which is very helpful.”
The breadth of employer support for the inclusion of qualifications in apprenticeships is evident in a new Semta report. The Engineering a Qualified Sector report, based on a survey and further in-depth interviews with employers, shows that three quarters of engineering employers would prefer to take on engineers with qualifications. This includes competency based qualifications too, such as NVQs, which involve hands-on learning in a workplace environment.
One of the report’s contributor’s, Tony Walker, Managing Director of Toyota Motor Europe London, said: “The experience of developing apprenticeship standards in England as part of a ‘Trailblazer’ group tells me that employers want formal qualifications to be included. We understand them – and so too do those we train.”
Such competency-based qualifications can currently be included within apprenticeship standards if employers can prove that they are a regulatory requirement or a requirement of a professional body, or a must-have in the labour market.
Watson added: “I hope that the new Semta report will provide a useful evidence base to the Institute for Apprenticeships and the government as they continue to refine the policy on qualifications.
“I know that engineering employers will continue to be keen to engage – they support the move to an employer-led system and very much welcome the opportunity to develop apprenticeships which reflect their needs.
“I will continue to work hard on behalf of employers with the Institute for Apprenticeships and government as they continue to refine the policy and help to shape the quality apprenticeships the sector and UK economy needs.”