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Major reform of vocational learning announced


The Secrtary of State for Education and Employment has announced significant changes to develop the present scheme of apprenticeships and new developments aimed at enhancing standards in vocational education. He pledged an extra £30 million to train 250,000 young people next year.

Blunkett said: "Much has already been achieved with work-based learning, but it has been for too long undervalued. We need modern, high standard, and expanded apprenticeships which lead young people up a ladder of learning. Change is required if the excellence of this route is to be realised.

He announced the start of a process of major reform of apprenticeships to include:

* a clear apprenticeship structure, in which national traineeships become Foundation Modern Apprenticeships (FMAs), leading up to Advanced Modern Apprenticeships (AMAs);

* major improvements to the knowledge and understanding required from apprenticeship programmes, achieved by pulling together the range of technical qualifications to give clear accreditation to the underpinning skills and knowledge needed for the workplace;

* inclusion of a specified period of off-the-job learning in college, or with other training providers, with a suggested minimum of one day a week or equivalent;

* the specification of minimum periods of learning - for example two years for level 3 Modern Advanced Apprenticeships, with entry requirements tightened up."

Mr Blunkett also announced a strengthening of the standards of advanced GNVQs, which will now be known as Vocational A Levels. He added: "The key task is to raise the status, attractiveness and effectiveness of work-based learning and vocational education for young people. Building on the changes we made for school based routes for 14-16 year olds, I am considering ideas for how we can provide a coherent ladder of learning for vocational education with:

* guaranteed apprenticeship opportunities for 16 to 18 year olds;
* independent monitoring and support;
* financial incentives for employers and awards for trainees; and
* licensing of employers who want to engage Modern Advanced Apprentices.

"I am also considering setting up a work-based learning standards fund to ensure that standards are developed in this route in the same way as in further education.

These developments follow recommundations in the second report of the Skills Task Force.


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