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About trailblazers

In 2016, the government made strides to replace the old apprenticeship frameworks with new trailblazer standards. For the first time, groups of employers had the opportunity to design what apprenticeships should look like for each of their sectors – consulting on everything from an employee’s training and development, to their assessment and qualification.

A trailblazer apprenticeship is a job with an accompanying skills development programme. Where possible, they are designed to align with a professional qualification. Under the new trailblazer standards, apprentices will develop the technical knowledge, practical experience and wider skills they need to be able to do their job both now and in the future. This is gained through a combination of on and off-the-job training.

The future of apprenticeships

To support the launch of the new trailblazer standards, a number of reforms have been put in place:

  • Employers are in the driving seat – for the first time, businesses have had the opportunity to come together and design the apprenticeship standards in their sector. These trailblazer groups have consulted on everything from training and development, to assessment and qualification. This process will ensure that the apprenticeship standards are fit for purpose and mutually beneficial for the apprentice and the employer.  
  • Introduction of the new apprenticeship levy – from April 2017, employers with a wage bill of more than £3 million will have to pay a 0.5% levy. The government’s aim is to raise £3 billion a year to support the creation and improve the quality of apprenticeships in the UK.  Employers will receive a £15,000 allowance to offset the payment of the levy, which will be paid in vouchers. Non-levy paying employers will also have access to the apprenticeship funding, although the exact amount has yet to be announced. Find out more.
  • Simplify the system – a new online portal called the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS), will be launched in 2016. This will be designed to help businesses manage all stages of employing an apprentice, from recruitment, training and funding. More information will be announced soon.

The different apprenticeship levels

There are various levels of apprenticeship available, which all have educational equivalents:

Intermediate (Level 2)   Equivalent to 5 GCSE passes at grades A* to C 
Advanced (Level 3) Equivalent to 2 A level passes
Higher (Level 4 +)
Equivalent to foundation degree and above
 Degree (6 and 7) Equivalent to a bachelor’s or master’s degree

Who are they suited to?

Apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16, living in England and not already in full-time education. Trailblazer standards may have their own entry requirements and can be used to train both new and existing employees.