Over 50 dealers and industry representatives attended a full day workshop outlining the new Trailblazer Apprenticeship standards at Pershore College on Tuesday 10 July 2018.
The meeting, chaired by Alastair Taylor, (CEO IAgrE) was organised by LE-TEC (Landbased Engineering Training and Education Committee Ltd), the umbrella organisation set up by the Agricultural Engineers Association (AEA), British Agricultural and Garden Machinery Association (BAGMA) and the Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE).
Industry consultant David Kirschner set the scene by outlining the obstacles that the industry had encountered since the publication of the Richard Report in 2012 which set out changes to the Apprenticeship framework. “Responsibility has passed through four different Government departments and five Ministers responsible for Apprenticeships,” he said. “Since 2013 when we first got involved there have been numerous forced amendments and rewrites until we got final approval for industry specific standards this year – all at a cost of more than £60,000 to LE-TEC.
“There are now two Land-based Engineering approved Trailblazer apprenticeships, Level 2 LBSE ‘Service Engineer’ Apprentice (18 – 24 months) and Level 3 LBSE ‘Technician’ Apprentice (36 – 48 months). All you need to know about each Trailblazer is outlined in two documents, The Apprenticeship Standard and The Apprenticeship Assessment Plan. All Standards and Assessment Plans have had to be approved and published by the Institute For Apprenticeships (IfA) otherwise no apprenticeship.”
All Trailblazer apprenticeship documents can be viewed on the IfA website.
Presenting a practical view on the challenges that face dealers, Glen Nash, Service Support Manager at the Turney Group said, “There’s a lack of skilled people to recruit so we’ve gone the route of ‘grow your own’ not only in the industry but also in our way of doing things as well, to get the right culture and mindset. We try to take on apprentices most years but if there are no good candidates, we don’t. The art is to screen candidates very carefully – and far too often we find that basic understanding of Maths and English is not as good as it should be.
“We often ask them to bring in photos and details of any engineering projects they have done at home or in their spare time, that often provides a good indication of their natural talents. But sometimes it’s the simple things that hinder progress for instance we like to send apprentices away to college on ‘block release courses’ but we’ve had cases where they are ‘home-birds’ and miss Mum’s cooking too much!
“We have no hesitation on sending apprentices on manufacturers courses, which are usually reserved for trained technicians, but if they’ve got potential then it’s a great way of furthering their education”.
Glen said that the pay rates they offered at Turney Group were rarely a block to recruitment. “We are in the Thames Valley, a region of high employment, but we’ve benchmarked our pay grades against other similar industries and we found that we compared very favourably, so money is rarely an issue.
“We also use the National Apprenticeship Service website to recruit, which has proved be to be very useful from time to time.”
Finally he said, “Accept apprentices will make mistakes, they will break things, but the important thing is to provide full support – and don’t send them home unhappy if you can help it!”
The meeting also featured presentations from Mark Eden, Interim Director of Workbased Learning for Warwickshire Colleges who provide a trainer provider view, an explanation of End Point Assessments from Sally Greenof City & Guilds who was supported by Steve Walker from Ofqual on External Quality Assurance protocols.
This article is reproduced with kind permission of Service Dealer and may be viewed here.
The presentations may be found below: