While there have been some major changes in agricultural apprenticeships, you’d be forgiven for thinking that nothing much was happening in arboriculture. However, the Trailblazer Group – who are responsible for apprenticeship development – has been working behind-the-scenes to get the Level 4 and Level 6 routes built. This has been no easy task with extensive processes and procedures in place to get agreement from the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education (IfATE). The group is also aware that the current Level 2 apprenticeship appears to be loved and loathed in equal measure – that may be a rather strong way to put it, but there is some unhappiness surrounding it.
However, one of the real strong points in favour of apprenticeship Standards is that the criteria for knowledge, skills and behaviours are set, but how you deliver to those is up to the training provider, employer and apprentice. And this flexibility is where the strength is. Training providers can work closely with employers and tailor the provision to suit.
The shift from Frameworks to Standards has completely changed the Level 2 Arborist apprenticeship and it has become more academically rigorous. Frameworks used to assess apprenticeships whilst on programme, while Standards list off the skills, knowledge and behaviours an apprentice will need to have learned by the end of their apprenticeship. Many view the current Arborist apprenticeship as something more than a Level 2. I’d have to agree that it is certainly challenging and could be considered as a “high Level 2” apprenticeship – so, should it be reclassified as a Level 2 and have elements reduced or removed, or be moved to a Level 3, which would have higher eligibility levels for entry? One thing is for certain; there will be some lively discussions going forward regarding any changes to the current apprenticeship to make it more relevant to employers, apprentices and training providers.
Time to take on an apprentice?
Over the last year, we’ve made some major changes to our provision in apprenticeships, substantially reducing our offering to focus on the land-based sector. This allows us to really improve the quality of our apprenticeships and engage with employers in a much more targeted manner –we’ve also been fortunate to have a new member of the team join us, who holds a Masters Degree in Forestry. If you’re thinking about taking on an apprentice, make sure that you talk with your chosen training provider about what you want out of it, the sort of work you undertake and whether there is seasonality to the jobs you do. This will help tailor the programme to better suit the apprentice, as well as your business. Remember that you can claim £3,000 for apprentices who start between 1 April and 30 September 2021, and the closing date for applications for those apprentices is 30 November 2021. As an employer, you’ll have to be on the Apprenticeship Service too. Visit www.gov.uk/guidance/manageapprenticeship- funds for more information.