Guide to apprenticeship reform

New Changes to Apprenticeship delivery form May 2017

Best Choice Training is committed to supporting employers and apprentices to get the most out of the new Trailblazer Apprenticeships. Our Business Engagement Team is currently running workshops and one to one consultation meetings to ensure that all employers understand how you can benefit from the changes and completing an Organisational Training Needs Analysis.

Overview of the reforms

In 2012, the Review of Apprenticeships in England was commissioned by the Secretary of State for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS). The review aimed at identifying whether apprenticeships delivered the training, qualifications and skills that employers and learners needed.

The resulting report highlighted that a significant number of employers felt current SASE Apprenticeship Frameworks were not fit for industry needs.

As a result, the Government formed a strategy to redefine apprenticeships to meet these changing needs.

Visit the Government’s website to learn more about the Apprenticeship Reforms.

 What’s changing?  

The reforms involve radical changes to the basic design of apprenticeships. New Trailblazer Apprenticeships put employers ‘in the driving seat’ in terms of designing apprenticeships and deciding how funding is spent.

Part of a revolutionary new approach spearheaded by employer-led Trailblazer standards, these changes will see businesses deciding which providers they want to use to train their apprentices, as well as assuming their own purchasing power through a new online portal called the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS).

A major step in the development of employer-led apprenticeships is the introduction of a new levy for companies that have a wage bill in excess of £3m. They’ll be required to pay a 0.5% levy on these wage payments, deducted directly via their PAYE system and paid into a ‘digital account’.

This payment will be offset by a £15,000 allowance to fund apprenticeship training. The levy itself will take the form of a central digital fund within DAS which can be accessed by all employers, regardless of whether they’re a levy payer or not. It works on the basis of issuing a ‘digital voucher’ redeemed by delivery providers direct from government. While levy payers will have a digital account generated automatically, employers who don’t pay the levy will need to register with DAS to create an account. As well as managing payments, DAS is also designed to be a general service – helping employer’s source apprenticeship providers and end-point assessment organisations, along with posting apprenticeship vacancies. Accessing DAS once funds are available within DAS, the government will apply a 10% top-up to employers’ apprenticeship training pots. This means that for every £1 that enters a digital account, the government adds 10p. As with the current funding system, apprenticeship training will come from further education colleges or independent training providers – with vouchers triggering payment to the providers. It’s important to note, however, that funds will expire 18 months after they enter the account, unless they’re spent on apprenticeship training. Employers who are exempt from paying the levy are expected to be able to select an apprenticeship provider using a DAS account from 2019/2020 – but will still be expected to contribute to the cost of the training in the meantime.

Apprenticeship Reforms (England)

Apprenticeships in England are changing. The new ‘Trailblazer’ Apprenticeships are replacing the SASE Frameworks.

Apprenticeships in England are in the process of undergoing a dramatic transformation.  As a result of Government reforms, a new style of apprenticeships has been designed to meet the changing needs of employers, learners and providers.

These new apprenticeships are known as ‘Trailblazer’ Apprenticeships.

They aim to:

  • Give employers control in designing apprenticeships
  • Increase the flexibility of delivery
  • Simplify the funding system
  • Increase the effectiveness of training 

Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standards

Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standards show what an apprentice will be doing and the skills required of them, by job role.  Standards are developed by employer groups known as Trailblazers. Trailblazers develop the assessment plan for the apprenticeship for use by employers and training providers.  The assessment plan may include the achievement of qualifications to demonstrate skills and knowledge.

While Trailblazer groups are free to select a range of methods – such as examinations, interviews, observations at work and professional assignments, for example – the assessment plan must achieve four things:

  • Explain what will be assessed – ie the skills, knowledge and behaviours listed within the standard.
  • Explain how the apprentice will be assessed, outlining the proposed methods.
  • Indicate who’ll carry out the assessment and who’ll make the final decision on competency and grading.
  • Propose quality assurance measures – to ensure the assessment is reliable and consistent across different locations, employers and training and assessment organisations. During the process, Trailblazer groups are able to liaise with special Relationship Managers, who’ll be assigned at the Expression of Interest (EOI) stage of the process for advice and guidance.

Benefit of employing an apprentice

Employing apprentices can bring a range of tangible benefits to your business.

Through funded, work-based learning, both new and existing employees can learn the skills and knowledge to work with greater effectiveness: generating more productivity, more motivation, more satisfaction and more loyalty.

Our range of products and services include:

Teaching and learning resources

Our wide range of teaching and learning tools are designed to empower tutors, employers and apprentices to get the very best out of the apprenticeship.

Our teaching and learning resources include:

Qualifications All are designed to meet the requirements of current apprenticeship Frameworks and the new Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standards.
One File – A dedicated e-portfolio system for employers and providers that provides efficient and effective management of your apprenticeship programme.

Handbooks Our range of handbooks for delivery staff are Framework-specific covering all aspects of apprenticeship delivery our teaching and learning resources are available across current apprenticeships and the new Trailblazer apprenticeships (England).

The available resources will vary depending on the specific apprenticeship, but will include a combination of some, or all, of the following:


The new Trailblazer apprenticeships in England (Apprenticeship Standards)

We have developed different handbooks for each qualification that are occupation specific and provide information on the following:

  • End-point assessment preparation and methods
  • Assessment guidance for on-programme elements
  • Suitable evidence to be gained through the on-programme/formative assessment that can be used to support the professional discussion
  • End-point assessment facility requirements
  • Learner tools required for the practical assessment

Employ an apprentice

Employing apprentices can bring a range of tangible benefits to your business.

Through funded, work-based learning, both new and existing employees can learn the skills and knowledge to work with greater effectiveness: generating more productivity, more motivation, more satisfaction and more loyalty.

Our Team

You will be provided with sector specific experts  who will be  available  throughout the delivery of the programme and the learner learning journey to provide you with information and support that you need.

How will our end-point assessments be delivered?

Our end-point assessment delivery will vary depending on the sector and the apprenticeship. Our options for this include:

  • Contracting with award organisations NCFE and Edexcel who are recognised assessment centre for some courses that we deliver.
  • Arranging to use assessors from employers, other training provider and colleges which we will have contracts with. In these instances, it will be to assess apprentices which they have not been involved in training

Quality control

Our risk-based Quality Assurance model has been designed to meet regulatory requirements through a flexible support package that can be tailored to help employers achieve business objectives.

A team of qualified and experience subject specialist will be allocated to each qualification delivered to ensure the quality and integrity of the qualification is maintained and meet sector requirements.

DOWNLOAD : Guide to end point assessment

DOWNLOAD : Trail-blazers apprenticeship standard handbook