The reformed Apprenticeships are to be employer-led and designed and will be graded on completion – pass, merit or distinction.
The plans were unveiled by prime minister David Cameron during a visit to BMW’s MINI Plant in Oxford last week.
BMW is a member of one of the new Trailblazer groups, alongside more than 60 other companies who between them took on 13,000 Apprenticeship starts in 2011.
The Trailblazers cover eight broad industry areas: aerospace, automotive, digital industries, electro-technical, energy, financial services, food and drink, and life and industrial sciences.
The government implementation plan for the new Apprenticeships states that they will be based on “standards designed by employers to meet their needs”, and apprentices will need to “demonstrate their competence through rigorous, independent assessment designed with employers”.
It adds: “Apprentices will be graded rather than simply passing or failing and the English and maths requirements will be strengthened.
“All Apprenticeships will need to last a minimum of 12 months to ensure quality and more will be done to promote the benefits of Apprenticeships to both employers and potential apprentices.”
The government hopes that the Trailblazers will provide “clear examples of effective practice and approaches which others can build on”.
Full implementation of the new Apprenticeships is scheduled for 2015/16 and 2016/17, although the government hopes that some reformed qualifications will be available by the end of next year.
The implementation plan adds: “Our aim is that from 2017/18, all new Apprenticeship starts will be based on the new standards.”
Skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock said: “Our aim is that the new Apprenticeships will focus squarely on rigorous training for learners and simplicity of use for employers. This will mean that our Apprenticeship system will respond to the needs of the modern economy.
“Being involved in the Trailblazers will give employers and professional bodies the opportunity to develop the new Apprenticeship standards for occupations in their sector. These will become the industry standard for any Apprenticeship in that occupation.”
For details, visit www.gov.uk/government/consultations/future-of-apprenticeships-in-england-richard-review-next-steps