What is a Trailblazer Apprenticeship?


The 2012 Richard Review into English apprenticeships was clear that the government should be encouraging more apprenticeships, but that significant changes were needed to increase provision. Of particular note were the importance of making apprenticeships more rigorous and making them more responsive to employers’ needs.

The belief was that the apprenticeship system:

  • Was overly complex – with a huge number of qualifications and possible combinations, and overly-detailed specifications
  • Involved the process of continuous assessment that only tested the incremental progress of the apprentice, rather than whether they had reached the desired level of competence
  • Didn’t respond first and foremost to employer needs

Since then, there has been a clear commitment from the government to replace the existing set of apprenticeship frameworks with employer-designed apprenticeship standards that are more aligned to the knowledge, skills and behaviours that employers are looking for.

One major change in approach in the move from framework apprenticeships to the new standards-based apprenticeships is in how apprenticeships are assessed. We now have assessment focused on assessing the apprentice at the end of their apprenticeship journey when they are expected to be most accomplished and able to demonstrate competence in performing the occupational role. This move towards the end-point assessment for final certification of competence moves the focus away from the framework approach of on-going assessment throughout the apprenticeship.

Summary of the change in emphasis in standards-based apprenticeships

In parallel to helping employers design new apprenticeship standards, the government is turning off apprenticeship frameworks, with the ambition that all apprenticeship starts will be on the new standards by 2020. Existing Frameworks are being withdrawn in batches.

Only organisations on the new Register of Apprenticeship Training Organisations (RoATP) can offer training for new apprenticeships and only organisations successful in their application to get on to the Register for Apprenticeship Assessment Organisations (RoAAO) can offer the end-point assessment services for specific apprenticeships. The ATT is on the Register for Apprenticeship Assessment Organisations for: Professional Taxation Technician Apprenticeship

A standards-based apprenticeship (called a Trailblazer apprenticeship earlier in the reform) has followed the following development process: