Semta's Chief Executive Ann Watson shares her views on the latest news, policy, issues and events of interest to the engineering and advanced manufacturing sector. 


Tuesday, 05 July 2016 00:00

Voice of Apprentices - Five Point Plan

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Guest blog by IAC members Lizzie Moffatt and John Coombes

rsz msp semta 300616 001 3It's been a real pleasure for us to be members of the Industry Apprentice Council, and speaking at the launch of the group's third annual report last week at The Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) was the icing on the cake. The challenge now, for us and for the new members who have agreed to join is to build on the positivity and goodwill we saw at the launch and turn it into action which gets our Five Point Plan implemented and heard across the UK.

The Five Point Plan, put together by the 1,543 apprentices who responded to the annual survey underpinning the report and strongly endorsed by the hundred attending the launch, is a credible, deliverable plan to protect and enhance the status of apprenticeships and the apprentice experience – not just across the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector we are building our careers in, but across all other sectors, too.

There's nothing in our plan which should be controversial or difficult for government and industry to accept. Ensuring the quality of apprenticeships is protected as quantity increases with the continued inclusion of qualifications, protecting quality is one of the stated aims of the government's reforms programme and has long been a key demand of industry employers. Ensuring young people are aware of the options available in industry is crucial if employers are to fill their vacancies. Reforming careers information, advice and guidance is something governments have long struggled with, but everyone recognises it's a problem. Ensuring there are progression routes makes sound business sense given that the bulk of skills shortages in STEM are at technician levels – NVQ3 and above. And creating a national representative body for apprentices along the lines of the National Union of Students, while ambitious, is surely now a must if apprentices are to be seen as the equals of their academic peers. It is crucial that given the 3 million new apprenticeships set to be created by 2020 that apprentices have their own representative body to speak for them on issues affecting their welfare and progression.

Having the backing of the politicians who will actually be charged with implementing the plan is crucial. It is great to have Nadhim Zahawi MP, the Prime Minister's Apprenticeships Advisor, included in the report to support the work of the IAC, the five point plan and to ensure that the voices of apprentices are heard loudly and clearly at the very highest level of government.

Moving further ahead, it is our hope that the third of IAC annual survey respondents who expressed an interest in joining the group do so. We've had a brilliant time – we've spoken in Parliament, we've been into schools and colleges, we've fed into the policy making process and we've launched a report with a plan that we're hugely proud of.

However, there's still so much left to do if we are to realise the ambition of that plan and ensure that high-quality, prestigious apprenticeships like ours are the norm, that no young person dismisses an apprenticeship as a lesser route, and that nobody is discouraged from taking up an apprenticeship place that they know will kick-start their career. If you want that, then join us, tell your friends about the IAC, and let's ensure the Five Point Plan becomes a reality.

To download the full report please visit

Read 1832 times Last modified on Tuesday, 05 July 2016 12:28