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Apprenticeship Report

Making Apprenticeships Work is a report published by the City & Guilds Industry Skills Board. It looks at how apprenticeships can best meet the needs of employers and learners.

Making Apprenticeships Work was launched in 2015 in response to the Government’s Apprenticeship Reforms. These reforms highlighted the need for major change from the current apprenticeship system.

Welcoming this need for change, the Industry Skills Board (ISB) looked at how apprenticeships could be designed and delivered to improve access to learning and increase employer commitment – whilst maintaining quality and providing the apprentice with meaningful learning.

Recommendations of the report

The report includes a series of recommendations that Government, businesses, employer groups and the City & Guilds Group can use to make apprenticeships work effectively for all involved.

These recommendations include a 25-point action plan which is divided into four strategic areas, plus a quality model for apprenticeships.

Making Apprenticeships Work ISB members discuss the report and the importance of apprenticeships reflecting needs of industry, whilst giving the apprentice a valuable experience.


The 25-point action plan

The report sets out a 25-point action plan, based upon implementation of policy, rather than proposals for policy change.

The action points fall into four strategic areas:

Putting quality at the heart of apprenticeships

1. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) should adopt policies and an overall framework for the components of a quality apprenticeship, with Ofsted inspections based on the same framework.

2. BIS, employer groups and the City & Guilds Group should put training and learning (especially workplace learning) at the heart of policy and action for apprenticeships.

3. BIS should hold to its policy on a single apprenticeship for each occupation and build on this to encourage a wider range of apprenticeships to be offered.

4. The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) should modify arrangements for breaks in training so that apprentices in high quality seasonal industries can continue their training on return.

5. Employer groups and assessment organisations should use new governance arrangements to drive up standards in apprenticeships.

6. The end assessment Standard should reflect full productivity, autonomy and mastery.

7. The independent assessor role should be higher level than that of a trainer, coach or assessor in the current system. End assessors should be highly occupationally competent.

8. Employer groups and providers should offer and promote different mixes of training and learning methods to enhance employer choice and allow employers to take on more or less of the training and learning themselves.

9. Every apprentice should embark on continuing training and development once they complete their apprenticeship and all sectors should produce progression pathways where this is possible.

10. The Government should include occupation in destination outcomes from apprenticeship and FE courses.

11. Success rates for new Standards should be calculated based on achievement of end assessment measured against entries for assessment, with early leavers monitored separately.

Employer commitment

12. The Government should work to reach the point where apprenticeships are fully integrated and become a normal entry route into all public sector employment.

13. Action should be taken to increase the availability of 16 and 17 year-olds for the core apprenticeship trades.

14. A national employer-led governing body should take forward a concerted but voluntary extension of the licence to practice.

15. The apprenticeship levy should be based on a virtual account (similar to a bank account) and it should be made easier for larger numbers of employers to opt for direct funding.

16. It should continue to be possible for providers to subcontract to levy paying employers.

17. Oversight of levy expenditure policies should be passed to an employer-led governing body and quality should be made a strong focus of action here.

Access to apprenticeships

18. Careers advice should provide clarity about career destination and the routes to get there, and about the implications of graduate versus non-graduate employment and of specific degree courses.

19. A UCAS-style operation should be put in place to strengthen access to apprenticeships for young people expecting to leave full time education in years, 11, 12 and 13.

20. Research should be conducted into making careers advice more focused on preferred career destinations.

21. BIS should encourage and incentivise providers and employers to increase the proportion of apprenticeships offered as vacancies.

22. Colleges should embrace and offer programmes that start with a full-time vocational course and then include the next step of apprenticeship training. The Government should incentivise this.

23. More effort should be given to helping young people who take vocational courses in further and higher education to secure the employer-based training after completion.


24. At the national level, many decisions relating to apprenticeships should be taken by an employer-led governing body. This should function separately from Government, with certain decisions remaining with Government.

25. At the sector or occupational level we should build on the Trailblazer employer group model but integrate this with the new form of Industrial Partnership and/or Sector Skills Council.


The Quality Apprenticeships model

One of the outputs of the report is the Quality Apprenticeships model (click on the image below). It focuses on placing learning right at the heart of apprenticeships, ensuring a sustainable, progressive journey is delivered, and helping to meet employers’ needs.

The model was developed by combining:

  • The Industry Skills Board’s definition of the criteria needed for quality apprenticeships (which they defined upon reviewing the report findings). Their criteria includes:
      • Apprenticeships that are demanding and worthwhile
      • Training and learning programmes that use a range of effective methods and are built on the support of highly-skilled adults in the workplace
      • High standards built into a demanding assessment at the end of the apprenticeship
      • Clear progression opportunities and career routes
  • The lessons and findings from the research report Remaking Apprenticeships
  • The Government’s Apprenticeship Reforms

    The Industry Skills Board

    The City & Guilds Industry Skills Board (ISB) is a diverse group of employers that was set up by the City & Guilds Group to look at the wider skills agenda. The report forms part of the ISB’s drive to ensure businesses become better informed in how to train staff at all levels, and in the benefits of doing so.  

    Members of the ISB:

    • TUI Group
    • KPMG
    • Optimity
    • National Grid
    • CIPD
    • Microsoft UK
    • Civil Service Learning
    • Marstons
    • Hilton Worldwide
    • Heathrow
    • NHS
    • TUC
    • AELP
    • PGL
    • GTA
    • Barclays
    • Tulip Ltd
    • Laing O’Rourke
    • Compass Group
    • Xtrac
    • City & Guilds

    The ISB is supported by the Trade Union Congress (TUC).


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    Find out more about the Apprenticeship Reforms