In 2014 the Government announced changes to the present Apprenticeship programme that is delivered by Colleges and training bodies.
The new programme called Trailblazer is to be employer led; work has started on building the new way of introducing potential employees into the world of work and providing meaningful, structured training and qualification as they work.
The programme was started and proven with larger corporate businesses in Trailblazer 1 & 2; now with Trailblazer 3 the Arboricultural, Forestry and Horticultural & Landscape industries have become involved.
Bartlett Tree Expert, who has worked with colleges offering apprenticeships for many years, was asked to head up the project along with other industry partners.
Work started in earnest in January, a lead group representing the 3 professions has now met and devised a structured programme that is allowing Arboriculture, Forestry and Amenity Horticulture to each build an industry focused apprenticeship that identifies the skills and knowledge required for an apprentice to become a successful worker in their industry.
The specialist industry groups comprise members that have had a commitment to growing apprentices in the past, those who want to influence this valuable programme for the future and the professional and lead bodies in each sector.
The programme has a short timescale for delivery with an expected completion of late 2015. Once the standards that will measure skills and success have been agreed, training providers will be brought into the process to ensure that any apprentice qualifications and taught skills can be delivered. The profession groups will consult as widely as possible within their industry to ensure there is reasonable consensus on what an apprentice will be equipped with on completion of their training.
In Arboriculture much valuable and appropriate ground work has already been completed via the development of skill sets and standards for the soon to be released “R2” Register of Tree Work Operatives. The essential elements of this initiative fit well with the requirements of the Trailblazer programme for the industry.
Horticulture and Forestry professions will also make use of existing, accepted, tried and tested standards from their respective training programmes.
As the Government requires that the professions produce a unified programme, a framework encompassing the common skills for all the industries is envisaged as a start point for all apprenticeships, this being agreed jointly, built from that will be the 3 separate specialist skill sets that define workers following a particular career path.
The new programmes can start with school leavers that have to remain in education up to their 18th birthday, and at this point will have to pick up numeracy and literacy, as well as work skills. Industry will have the opportunity to develop apprenticeships that will reach to skills and qualifications equivalent to degree level or higher in future years. Initially the Arboriculture, Forestry, and Horticulture & Landscape trailblazer will develop Arborist, Forest Operative, Horticulture/Landscape Operative and Horticulture / Landscape Supervisor role skills, if there is a demand, more advanced programmes can be added at a later date.
Each apprenticeship is expected to be at least one full year, but approved programmes can be two or more years if the industry feels that the appropriate skills sets cannot be properly attained in a short time period.
Employers who participate in growing a new generation of workers with practical skills and qualifications will be paid by Government for their commitment, the details of payments are still to be finalised, but in general terms there is already a commitment to match each £ 1 spent by an employer in training an apprentice with £ 2 of Government funding, with supplements for employing 16-18 year olds, smaller businesses, and successful completion of training by their apprentices.
In the coming months the lead group and the profession working groups will build a robust and challenging draft apprenticeship programme, taking advice and the views of the industry as they progress, by the end of 2015 those involved want to present a high quality proposal for Government and industry approval.