10 unusual apprenticeships you may have never heard of

From costume designer to golf course manager, AELP's Jane Hickie suggests how 10 of the most usual apprenticeships standards could be improved in 2021
1st January 2021, 9:00am
Jane Hickie


10 unusual apprenticeships you may have never heard of

Apprenticeships: 10 Of The Most Unusual Standards

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has been engaged in a very constructive debate recently with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) on the model that will be used to determine the funding of apprenticeship standards in the future. The institute also announced recently that it is undertaking a review of the standards themselves, grouped by occupation. 

Therefore, while officials are taking a well-earned break over the holiday period, AELP has volunteered to help get the process off the ground by offering views on how the standards for 10 of the lesser-known areas might be rewritten. Here is our submission (very much a draft only):

Costume performance technician (level 3)

This standard was only approved in November but IfATE didn't allow for the limited 2020 panto season and cries of "he's behind you" to Boris, as an infected Emmanuel Macron crept up waving a wet fish. Therefore, stitching up the panto equivalent of personal-protection equipment is a must.    

Systems thinking practitioner (level 7)

The original standard looks like it was written by Dominic Cummings, perhaps on a visit to Barnard Castle. When completed, the programme will enable the high-level apprentice to support decision-makers and leaders to address complex and "wicked" problems.

AELP's recommendation is to simplify the standard so that being able to make a couple of quick and sensible suggestions for a Brexit deal or lowering Covid tiers enables a fast-track route to programme completion.

Home Alone, the education version: 'We forgot Gavin!'

Wellbeing: 10 ways to protect your mental health over the holidays

Tes FE People of the Year: Musthag Kahin

Golf course manager (level 5)

After the traumatic events of 2020, anyone trying to escape from the stresses of work on the golf course should be entitled to an easier round. Therefore, a revised standard should introduce a new emphasis on cutting back the rough on a course. We do recognise that this could prompt some interesting conversations between the Institute and its counterparts in Scotland about links course management and soft Sassenachs.

Forensic collision investigator (level 6)

Why confine this to just car crashes that happen on the road? We could keep apprentices very busy investigating a plethora of skills-initiative disasters that have hindered frontline delivery of training for the past 15 years.

Historic environment adviser (level 7)

Apprenticeships are all about progression: we should be creating a ladder of opportunity between a forensic collision investigator at level 6 and a historic environment adviser at the level above. 

The adviser is supposed to help protect historic assets and, in the case of UK skills, we are potentially looking at a very short list. But having done all that hard work to get to level 6, the apprentice probably deserves a quicker path to completion with this standard.     

Senior journalist (level 7)

Under an amended standard, no would-be senior journalist in the national media would be allowed anywhere near their end-point assessment without them clearly recognising that education is about more than schools and universities. Nor should they be allowed to claim that they had even heard of traineeships before Rishi Sunak talked about them in July's Plan for Jobs.

Underkeeper (level 2)

Apparently, a successful apprentice under this standard is good at pest control, often in support of a shooting enterprise. The temptation to urge the Institute to redefine what it means by the word "pest" is very strong, but because it is the season of goodwill, we will refrain.

Bookbinder (level 2)

The current standard refers to the fact that hand-bookbinding is a small, specialist area of book production with a history in the West stretching back to the eighth century. It also points out that in production work, particularly with a run of identical volumes, a bookbinder must be able to work within a set of strict time and quality parameters. 

Fortunately, ESFA rulebooks don't go back that far, but the agency's complex rules are constantly changing, so maybe the level needs raising.

Church minister (level 6)

Surely most would agree that this standard needs to be extended beyond supporting Christian churches. Right now, we need all the help we can get from anyone with a direct line to Him/Her Upstairs, whatever the religion.

Holistic therapist (level 3)

The Institute has yet to approve delivery for the first standard for holistic therapy and the question is, why the hell not? Can't they see that after a year like this, we all need a relaxed chat with a qualified therapist telling us how to banish those aches and pains?

Finally, a plea for a new standard to join the 26 digital ones already approved for delivery. With no end to this pandemic in sight unless the vaccine provides an answer, I need a digital apprentice to help me navigate between Zoom, Teams, Hangouts, GoTo and Webex. This would certainly provide a renewed sense of optimism as we head into the new year. 

Jane Hickie is managing director of Association of Employment and Learning Providers  


You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters