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Develop Training announces Trailblazer Apprenticeships

Develop Training announces Trailblazer Apprenticeships

12 November 2015

Develop Training (DTL) is proud to announce the UK’s first Trailblazer Apprenticeships for the utilities sector, part of our new contract with Balfour Beatty.

DTL has won a technical training contract with Balfour Beatty Utility Services (BBUSL) to run the Gas Network Team Leader Trailblazer Apprenticeship, the first programme of its kind in England.

Chris Wood, CEO of DTL said, “I am delighted that we are able to announce the start of this prestigious programme which underlines our long-standing and close relationship with Balfour Beatty.”

John Cowell, Resource and Development Manager at BBUSL enthused, “I am thrilled to be able to announce the first Trailblazer Apprenticeships in the utility sector which illustrates Balfour Beatty’s commitment to training the next generation of engineers. We are confident that Develop Training will deliver a programme of the highest quality.”

A dramatic new angle on learning

Trailblazer Apprenticeships are a dramatic new angle on workplace learning, allowing employers to shape the curriculum, and as passionate advocates of vocational training, DTL has been keen to add them to its portfolio of apprentice, NVQ and other training programmes as well as providing employers with specialist advice and support.

A total of 16 apprentices have already been employed by BBUSL and are now embarking on a two-year development programme with DTL, an Energy and Efficiency Independent Assessment provider approved by the Energy and Efficiency Industrial Partnership, an industry skills body.

The Level Two programme focuses on the skills, knowledge and understanding required for operatives working on the installation and maintenance of the UK’s gas network infrastructure.

The programme seeks to address in part a major skills shortage in the gas industry. In the future, thousands of such new workers will be required to allow the sector to continue to deliver gas safely and reliably to domestic, commercial and industrial users.

The Balfour Beatty apprentices are training towards two job roles, Team Leader Service Laying and Team Leader Main Laying. Both require working in all weather conditions at sites across the gas distribution network using a range of tools and equipment to install new mains or to service and repair existing infrastructure assets.

The apprentices will be trained to develop a disciplined approach to working safely on a wide range of gas related equipment and to decide on the approach to be taken to complete work following a structured procedure. Alongside high level specialist skills, they will have to develop industry specific knowledge, including relevant legislation, safety procedures and protection of the environment.

More closely aligned to real world jobs

The Trailblazer Apprenticeship is graded with successful learners receiving a pass or a distinction grade depending on their performance during the programme and following an independent end-point assessment. Traditional apprenticeships are run by colleges and private training providers who deliver the qualifications with work experience provided by employers signed up to schemes. Trailblazer Apprenticeships are different, as now the company providing the work experience shapes each apprentice's curriculum so that real world jobs are more closely aligned to real world training.

Gary Fisher, Schemes Manager at DTL, said: “This is an exciting time for Develop Training, our learners and the employers. This new initiative gives us the opportunity to support our clients to meet their operational competence requirements. It will see the Trailblazer methodology becoming embedded in their business strategy with long term benefits for all stakeholders. As an EEIA service provider, DTL has an excellent platform to support this important and innovative approach to apprenticeships in the gas industry and other sectors, and to create exciting new opportunities for learners and their employers.”

While unemployment among 16-24 year olds is at 16 per cent, DTL believes there is a golden opportunity to provide job opportunities for young adults in the utilities sector. It’s estimated the power, gas, water and waste management industries will need 200,000 new recruits in the UK within eight years to replace an ageing workforce.

Gary Fisher continues: “Of course, out of work young people can’t just step into the shoes of experienced operatives. They need skills, and the closer aligned those are to the job they have to do, the better, which is where Trailblazer Apprenticeships come in.”

As part of the government’s investment in reshaping the skills landscape, employers in the energy sector have set up a new group, the Energy & Efficiency Partnership, with the objective of setting the skills agenda, leading to new approaches to training development, delivery and assessment as well as monitoring and measuring competence.

The partnership has a three-year objective to invest in at least 20,000 learners, of which at least 5,500 will be recruited onto apprenticeships and at least 7,700 into traineeships or youth employment programmes. At least 6,000 current employees will benefit from reskilling programmes. Member companies are developing apprenticeship delivery plans. As part of this major reform to the way that apprenticeship programmes are delivered, employers have the power to develop new standards and influence how standards are assessed to ensure learning outcomes reflect their operational needs.

Key elements of the new initiative:

  • Assessments must be fair to every participating apprentice, providing an equal opportunity to demonstrate competence, and learning pitched at the right level.
  • All assessments must be focused on clear learning and assessment criteria to will ensure learners are assessed against the actual tasks they will encounter in their normal working experience.
  • Each industry will have a single standard allowing fair and meaningful assessments, and enabling apprentices to have the opportunity to showcase their skills and abilities.