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Jon Kennard

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Insight: How unionlearn are ensuring apprenticeships are fit for the future

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As part of unionlearn's ongoing commitment to continually improve the quality of apprenticeships, unionlearn in the northern region hosted and facilitated a discussion group for local apprentices to give feedback on their own personal experiences directly to the Richard Review team.
The group was comprised of more than ten current or past apprentices, ranging from 17 to 40 years old and covering a diverse range of trades and disciplines in both the public and private sector; from Mechanical Engineering and Construction to Health & Social Care, IT and Customer Services. Discussion will be focussed on exploring the views of the apprentices first-hand and giving them a 'voice'. All of the participating Apprentices' employers, including Gateshead Council, South Tyneside Homes, Caterpillar and Gentoo are exemplar in their programmes and most hold the unionlearn Quality Award for their Apprenticeship provision.
The review aims to:
  • Take a medium-long term look at the future of apprenticeships in England
  • Identify best practice and ensure that going forward, apprenticeships meet the needs of the changing economy
  • Deliver the qualifications and skills which employers need, to world class benchmarks
  • Ensure that government is maximising the impact of public investment in apprenticeships
The review will be conducted over the summer and the findings/experiences and suggestions from this discussion will contribute to the final report. Doug Richard, leader of the review, is expected to report on his findings and recommendations in the autumn.
Tom Wilson, director of unionlearn, said:
"The Richard Review is an important chance to reflect on and review the current state of apprenticeships. It is important that apprentices get a chance to contribute directly to the Review, and unionlearn are pleased to be able to help make this happen. They know firsthand what works and what doesn't, what can be improved and what needs to be challenged. This input is vital to helping to make apprenticeships the gold standard in high quality, career development opportunities that lead to decent work. This input will also be important in helping to challenge bad practice where it exists."
Lynne Dickenson, a final year apprentice electrician at Gentoo said: "I am really fortunate to have had such an amazing opportunity with my apprenticeship and it has been of the highest standard throughout. Hopefully this review will help to ensure that every Apprentice in the future gets the experience I've had. I'm really looking forward to qualifying next year and then working towards fulfilling my long-term ambitions and progressing within my workplace."

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Jon Kennard

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