’ve just reached my one-year anniversary as Chair of the Technical Apprenticeship Consortium (TAC), so now seems an opportune moment to reflect on the achievements of the organisation over the last 12 months or so, as well as the wider landscape on apprenticeships in our sector are concerned.
The Government target for apprenticeships remains at three million by 2020 and it’s looking less and less realistic by the month. Figures published in May show 22,300 apprenticeship starts, far below the 60,000 a month needed to reach the target.
From TACs perspective there has been slow progress in gaining approval for apprenticeship proposals, standards and end-point assessment plans. The approach towards the development and subsequent approval of standards documentation still needs work by the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) and we need to challenge and raise their funding caps to support the delivery of high-quality apprenticeship opportunity for our sector. All of these issues need addressing if we want a truly fit-for-purpose system.
We have written to Ann Milton MP, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, to try and secure a meeting to discuss the above issues in detail. Things are looking hopeful that she will take us up on our offer of a meeting in 2019. We firmly believe that our sector has the ingredients and appetite to deliver but it’s only through engagement with experts that the government will be able to solve the problems and get the figures trending back towards the admittedly ambitious targets.
From a more specific TAC perspective, it’s been another year of growth. We introduced four new standards that lead to professional registration: degree apprenticeships for building services design engineers and civil engineers, as well as two Level 3 technician apprenticeships in building services design and civil engineering.
As I write this, we’ve two new TAC-led standards currently being developed to add to the mix – an integrated degree apprenticeship in transport planning, the standard being published by the IfA in November, and another for environmental practitioners. Both TAC facilitated trailblazer groups are now well on the way with the End Point Assessment plans, which we hope will be approved in Spring 2019, ready for September 2019 delivery. We’ve also been working with TAC approved colleges and higher education institutions, as well as professional bodies, to ensure that end point assessment is not only working but also adding value for both apprentices and their employers.
The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy has changed the landscape, but TAC Members remain committed to apprenticeship recruitment. In fact, they have stepped up their intake over the past year with more than 650 apprentices recruited at TAC companies across all six standards, which includes 280 degree apprentices.
Our regional groups are now in place which is leading a greater integration between employers and local providers (colleges and universities). Sharing best practice like this can only provide benefit to all current and aspiring apprentices and deliver the skills and resource that our industry needs.
I’m delighted with the progress TAC has made in 2018 but more clearly remains to be done. We are, of course, always looking for new members and partners, and are willing to consider new ideas. Our regional groups will be a great place to start for many, so if your company, current TAC member or not, wants to get involved to help us champion apprenticeships and deliver the next generation of engineers and technicians, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.
The Technical Apprenticeship Consortium (TAC) is supported by ACE. Please contact Kimberly Murphy to find out how your company can get involved.