The Institute for Apprenticeships has to be “truly employer led”, its interim chief executive has said.
Speaking at the Associaiton of Employment and Learning Providers autumn conference in Manchester today, Mr Lauener – already chief executive of the Education Funding Agency and the Skills Funding Agency – gave what he described as his first speech with “the Institute for Apprenticeships hat on”.
Mr Lauener, who was appointed in September, said the composition of the organisation’s board would be announced before Christmas.
“We will also have sector panels aligned to those in the Sainsbury Review,” he said, adding he expected this would mean around 250 to 300 employers would be involved. “This sort of ownership is absolutely critical for the institute to be successful in the future,” said Mr Lauener. This would also be vital in ensuring it was credible for employers and apprentices alike, he added.
Last week, the government announced that the new Technical and Further Education Bill will allow for the remit of the Institute for Apprenticeships to be expanded in line with the Post-16 Skills Plan, which will give the body a greater role in overseeing the development of a new post-16 structure for technical education. It will also be renamed the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.
Speaking today, Mr Lauener said he also expected the new institute to develop a strong focus on standards. He said he did not know how many apprenticeship standards there would be eventually. “It really doesn’t matter, as long as we have a sufficiently broad framework,” he said. “What is vital is that people understand the system and how it works at different levels.”
"One of the things I expect the institute to do is to say, ‘This one is a little bit out of date and we need to refresh that one',” he said. Rigorous processes should be put in place to move standards from the initial phases into the stem quickly, he stressed.
'A significant time to establish apprenticeships'
Finally, he said he expected the institute to make “rapid progress on end point assessments” to ensure there were approved assessment organisations in place for all frameworks. “That will develop quickly, but it is vital that we maintain a strong focus on quality,” said Mr Lauener.
Mr Lauener said that while previous attempts to reform apprenticeships had failed, the 2016 Enterprise Act had “all the ingredients for success”. “Indeed, in all the time I have worked in the sector, I don’t think there has been a more significant time to establish apprenticeships. This is the time we get it right,” he said.
In addition to creating the institute, the act had also “established the integrity of apprenticeships in England”. “I think the public sector gets it this time, more than ever before. People realise it is important. That may have something to do with the fact that government and the public sector are paying the levy, so have a direct interest.”
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