The Natural Stone Industry Training Group (NSITG) met this month (22 March) at the Building Crafts College in London to discuss the Government's proposals for what it calls Trailblazer apprenticeships.
There will be a report from the meeting in the next edition of Natural Stone Specilaist magazine.
Trailblazer apprenticeships have arisen out of a report resulting from a Government review of apprenticeships published in 2013. It was called The Future of Apprenticeships in England: Implementation Plan 3. Its aim is to grow the number of apprenticeships available. It wants to put employers in the driving seat, part of which involves imposing a levy of 0.5% of the wages bill of companies that have a wages bill of more than £3million.
The money will be used for grants given to those who train, although in future, being in the driving seat will also mean picking up the tab for a third of the cost of training as grants will only cover two-thirds of the cost. They currently cover it all.
The apprenticeships will be based on standards designed by employers, which is intended to make apprenticeships more relevant and thus more attractive both to existing and new employers.
Apprentices will need to demonstrate their competence through 'rigorous and holistic' assessment. This will focus on the end of the apprenticeship (what most of us would regard as an exam, or test) to ensure that the apprentice is ready to progress.
The new standards for apprenticeships are intended to be short and easy to understand, setting out the knowledge, skills and behaviour (KSBs, as they are already being called) that individuals will need in order to be considered fully competent within an occupation.
To be accepted by the Government, the industry apprenticeship proposals have to include a minimum of 10 companies willing to carry out training under the scheme. The stone industry does not have 10 companies prepared to be Trailblazers currently, but Ian Major, who heads Stone Federation's training arm, StoneTrain, believes they will be forthcoming. Those from the stone sector at the meeting this month were:
Stone Restoration Services – Michelle Turner (chairing the meeting)
Putney & Wood – Mark Chapman
Cliveden Conservation - Lewis Proudfoot
Ashby Stone - Chris Williams
Chichester Stoneworks - Adam Stone
Szerelmey – Darren Moore
Stonewest – Andy Ball
Carrek - Keith Hoskins
Lincoln Cathedral - Carol Heidschuster and Paul Booth
There is no upper limit on how many companies can be involved, so anyone else who would be interested in taking on Trailblazer apprentices should email Ian Major at [email protected].
You might like to read what the Bishop of London, The Rt Revd Richard Chartres, had to say about the apprenticeship proposals, which were part of the Enterprise Bill, when he spoke in the debate about it in the House of Lords in October. Click here to read his comments.