Trailblazers almost a year on……

I attended my first meeting of employers involved in Trailblazing the new Apprenticeship standards in January 2014. With a degree of trepidation and uncertainty I approached the first aerospace and automotive meetings involving the great and the good of major blue chip and market leading organisations (I daren’t start listing all these companies for fear of missing any one out!). We currently have representation on Aerospace, Automotive, Food and Drink and an exciting, and much needed, cross-sector approach to Machining involving the High Value Manufacturing trailblazer.

However, my concerns evaporated as I very quickly realised that these colleagues were in the process to improve and stretch current arrangements to produce young people with broader and state of the art skills that their companies and the economy requires.

I remain impressed with the energy and commitment of the trailblazer groups and with the employers’ tenacity to build on the best of current practice, as well as trying new approaches – the foundation gateway, the employer sign-off process, and synoptic assessment in Automotive immediately spring to mind.

Given our members concerns that the Trailblazer plans and enhanced standards should be cognisant of the needs of SMEs, GTA England has been encouraged by employers to involve them closely in discussions. We have held consultation events with our members’ employers including SMEs on numerous occasions and the outcomes have always been welcomed by the Trailblazer groups. Most importantly, our members’ employer views have been embraced in the development of the detail of the standards and in underpinning Employer Units of Competence contained in the Employer Brief.

Throughout the year, I have been fortunate enough to call upon members’ expertise on many occasions, including MGTS, NWTC, Training 2000, and here is what Alliance Learning say about the experience: “Alliance Learning has worked with GTA England to support both the Aerospace and Automotive Trailblazers throughout the year. We have valued the opportunity to contribute to recommendations for the content of the employer-led standards. It has been particularly beneficial to have offered a number of our employers including SMEs, the opportunity to influence these important developments.”

As we roll forward into the New Year and with the need to develop an increasing number of new apprenticeship Standards, there will be continued opportunities for participation. We have just secured the involvement of NITAL for Tool making, as well as the Mersey Maritime Group and PETA for Marine. This is in addition to circulating the Machining standards to all GTAs for consultation with their SMEs. I look forward to working with you in 2015 to ensure that our collective GTA expertise and distinctive perspective continues to play a central role in the Standards’ programme.

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