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The Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA) have made big changes to the process for the development and introduction of Apprenticeship standards in 2018. 

The IFA empowers employers to help them create high-quality Apprenticeships. They are an independent public body that works hand in hand with employer groups called trailblazers to develop Apprenticeship standards and assessment plans. Their aim is to ensure Apprenticeships are the best they can be, meeting the needs of the employer and learner alike.

Why are changes required to improve the Apprenticeship standards development process?

The Institute for Apprenticeships has made some big changes in 2018 as set out in their new ‘Faster and Better’ campaign. They have recognised that the current standards process is overly complicated and takes too long and that this is mostly caused by too much government red tape. They have seen the number of new standards making it to market fall dramatically in the last 12 months with only 63 being signed off between January and May 2018.

They laid out in a recent news update that on their first anniversary in April they are responding to calls for a quicker and slicker development process for standards. They agree that improvements are required and have set out a number of changes to ensure they hit the mark.

What do the changes entail?

Johnathan Mitchell - IFA Deputy Director (Standards Development) has set out the changes to the standards development programme which includes a restructure and refresh of all forms and templates. In addition, there will be new guidance, new intense workshops and generally more support to trailblazers. The IFA want to make mutual goals achievable and in new quicker timeframes than have previously been set out.

Some trailblazers were left to create standards as they visualised them, however, this lead to confusion for them when providing the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA) with updates on their development process. In response to this, the IFA came forward to say they agreed that this was right at the time and fitted well with the employer lead feel to the standards, but this does need to change to make sure that they feel a part of the team.

A new streamlined development process

Intensive workshops have been set up to help streamline the development process for standards, and help to ensure that any future confusion is dealt with in a timely fashion.  In his ‘Faster and Better’ VLOG, Jonathan Mitchell states that he believes that these 2-day workshops will help trailblazers to engage more with the IFA and resolve any confusion with the process. When and if a trailblazer is having an issue or has an enquiry they can raise this in their workshop and hopefully resolve these issues in a timely fashion.

The introduction of the new structured web-based templates for creation of the standards will allow both trailblazer groups and the IFA to have greater visibility on progress throughout the development phase which should help to increase the pace.

The IFA will be creating a number of aids to help, starting with a step-by-step process guide, new video guides to assist in the transition to the process, and are also putting together a more illustrative examples guide so companies are able to see what it will all look like.

In a separate Vlog from the IFA, Richard Guy Deputy Director of Quality, confirmed that the Department for Further Education (DFE) has been working closely with the IFA to resolve a number of policy issues that created further red tape slowing down the development process for standards. The IFA has worked to reduce the number of rules that are no longer needed and said that they will make sure any Apprenticeships in the affected fields would need to be reviewed prior to these changes coming into effect.

Jayne McCann Deputy Director of Funding Policy at the IFA has highlighted a number of changes set to be introduced including the new pricing bands as part of the ‘Faster and Better’ campaign; this will mean that instead of 15 bands as it currently stands, from May 2018 there will be 30 pricing bands.

To keep updated on the latest ‘Faster and Better’ news please visit the IFA news page or visit the Institute of Apprenticeships website and read their new E-Magazine.

Paragon Skills Q&A on the IFA ‘Faster and Better’ campaign 

How will these changes affect your business?

With the changes in place, the number of new standards being introduced to the market in the next 12 months should be much greater than we have already seen for the first half of 2018, which in turn will mean that Paragon Skills will be offering you an even higher level of training and standards with every Apprenticeship.

What action should you as a company take?

None, the IFA is working closely with the trailblazers to make sure that the processes are in place and working smoothly. Once these new standards are in the system, we will inform you of our updated curriculum and the new standards that are available for your sector.

Who are trailblazers?

There are approximately 240 trailblazer groups that have collectively developed close to 600 standards across all levels, of these, 276 standards have been approved for delivery. These employers play an invaluable role in ensuring the quality and standards of Apprenticeships in the UK and second to none, they are generally industry leaders and are helping to shape not only the way in which Apprenticeships are delivered but also the way skills will be learnt and developed.

Will these changes affect your employees/learners already on an Apprenticeship?

No, once a member of staff has started an Apprenticeship, they will remain on this framework or standard until completion.

When will these new changes to the development process for standards come into effect?

The changes to the development process for standards will take immediate effect, your company will not need to take any steps to adjust to this process, as it will only affect the trailblazer groups.

Which standards do Paragon Skills already offer?

We currently offer 13 Apprenticeship standards across various sectors and are working closely with City & Guilds to introduce further standards that fit with our curriculum as soon as they are available.

Current Apprenticeship standards offered at Paragon Skills include:

Leadership and Management         

Team Leader / Supervisor Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard

Management Higher Level 5 Apprenticeship Standard

Automotive and Marine

Light Vehicle Maintenance & Repair Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard

Boatbuilding Standards Advanced Apprenticeship Level 3

Marine Engineering Standards Advanced Apprenticeship Level 3

Customer service

Customer Service Practitioner Level 2 Apprenticeship Standard

Business Admin

Business Administrator Apprenticeship Level 3 Standard


Hospitality Team Member Level 2 Apprenticeship Standard

Hospitality Supervisor Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard

Hairdressing, Barbering & Beauty

Hair Professional Barbering Apprenticeship Level 2 Standard

Hair Professional Hairdressing Level 2 Apprenticeship Standard

Adult care

Adult Care Worker Level 2 Apprenticeship Standard

Lead Adult Care Worker Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard

Will the changes in the pricing bands affect the cost of staff already completing an Apprenticeship?

No, if a member of staff has started the Apprenticeship already, they will stay on the current pricing band, Paragon Skills will ensure that you are updated with band pricing that affects the curriculum offered to your company.