National Apprenticeship Week

Pamela Chapman3

The reform of vocational training shows no sign of slowing. Hot on the heels of the on-going changes to apprenticeships with employer-led Trailblazers designing new apprenticeship standards, the announcement of the apprenticeship levy and plans to route funding for apprenticeship training via employers, there is now going to be reform of the ‘apprenticeship pipeline’ 16 – 18 year old education options. I attended a meeting about this, kicked-off by MP Nick Boles Minister for Skills and Education and entitled Technical and Professional Education Reforms (TPER). This piece of work will look to simplify the dazzling array of educational options open to those age 16+.

The case for change was explained thus, 50% of sixteen year olds will either choose the academic option by staying on for A-Levels in schools or FE colleges, or opt for an apprenticeship/ alternative employment, or a full-time FE college course. Only 7% of 16 – 18 year olds start on apprenticeships, and government modelling suggests this proportion is unlikely to increase significantly because most employers prefer to take on young people at 18 rather than 16 (In our experience the older applicants perform better in assessments, therefore are more likely to succeed in their application).

The Minister went on to state that 46% of 16-year olds who do not choose the academic option or an apprenticeship are faced with a complex and confusing landscape of thousands of qualifications, many of which have not been designed with employer involvement or to meet the needs of industry. Some reforms were begun in the previous parliament, but the Government is committed to finishing the job.

An independent expert panel headed by Lord Sainsbury will look to learn from the recent Trailblazer apprenticeship reforms and ensure a college-based route is designed to meet standards set by employers. This way, an 18 year old completing a two year course will have increased their employability prospects because they have learnt the skills and knowledge that recruiting employers are looking for. The panel will work with employers to identify the principles that will underpin the development of new technical and professional routes, and advise and make recommendations to the government on what the reformed TPE system should look like to put England on par with the best in the world.

Look out for future blogs, we are in an exciting time for the reform of vocational education and training.

Skills success

The IRTE Skills Challenge 2015 prize-giving takes place at The National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham.

At the 5th annual IRTE Skills Challenge presentation, Arriva UK Bus, a pioneer of the  competition again saw its engineers come away with a number of awards. The competition took place at the S&B Automotive Academy in Bristol between 1st and 4th June, and involved 10 bus and coach operators and 50 competitors. Arriva was represented by technicians and apprentices from London, the Midlands and the North East, who competed on 2nd June.

Having enjoyed notable success over the years, we have earned the reputation as the team to beat and this year was no exception with very determined challenges from the other operators. The results were revealed at the presentation ceremony held at the national Motor Cycle Museum on 16th July.

Our successes came with Tom King from Arriva London and Pamela Chapman from Arriva Midlands winning the joint award for to scoring electrical and mechanical. Tom was also rewarded as the top scoring electrical apprentice and Pamela the top scoring mechanical apprentice, with Matthew Newton from Arriva North East runner up in the top scoring bodywork apprentice award. Pamela was also runner up in the top scoring DVSA inspection apprentice award and, we’re delighted to say, the very first winner of the Philip Margrave award for Outstanding Achievement – firmly establishing her as being at the pinnacle of her profession.

We are, once again, extremely pleased and very proud with the efforts of all our engineers in the competition, it’s not easy to perform under the spotlight and for this they deserved to be commended.

Marking a 2 million milestone

On the 9th December the Government announced the 2 millionth person to start an apprenticeship since 2010. Arriva UK Bus has contributed to this total by recruiting 108 engineering apprentices over the same period. Apprentices are an important part of our engineering strategy; they support our succession planning by replacing retiring engineers and help to fill the skills gap by learning sector specific skills and new technology from day one.

At Arriva, our trainees undertake an advanced modern apprenticeship in bus and coach engineering and maintenance lasting 4 years. The first 3 years is a combination of attending college for 2 to 4 weeks and developing practical skills in the work place. In that period they will achieve a level 3 technical certificate and an NVQ. The 4th year is then spent in the depot honing the knowledge and skills gained. At the end of the apprenticeship, we would expect to offer employment to those who have met their developmental goals.

In order to encourage our apprentices to strive for excellence throughout their training, they are each invited to apply for the annual Arriva ‘engineering apprentice of the year’ award, with the winner invited to a ceremony to receive their prize. Over the years, some of these winners have gone on to represent Arriva UK Bus in national apprenticeship awards too, which really does showcase just how important this kind of mentoring is. Our apprentices have also put their developing skills to the test by participating in both our internal skills competition and the national IRTE Skills Challenge. We find it to be really beneficial to set these additional goals to ensure that our apprentices remain focused and engaged with their training, and ultimately their chosen vocation.

In an initiative that will again support attraction and retention, our apprentices are now also able to apply for the Arriva graduate program. The scheme was successfully piloted with one apprentice in September 2013. Another two also successfully Wedding dress ranks first in a wedding preparation. The significance is evident. In wedding dresses shop

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