Schools based apprenticeships: another landscape

When I started in Further Education nearly 40 years ago, our major role was supporting apprenticeships. Every September stream of youngsters who were working for national companies such as British Telecom and the National Grid and local engineering and construction companies would queue up to enrol for their one day in college to study for a National Certificate.

With the expansion of academic higher education and the abolition of grant aided apprenticeships in the 1980s such programmes fizzled out.

Only now has government appreciated the importance of such schemes and is making the apprenticeship a core option within its 14-19 agenda alongside academic routes such as the traditional A Level and ‘new’ Diploma. Much of the delivery will be based in schools.

Rebuilding an apprenticeship framework for 14-19 year olds from nothing within schools that have generally focussed on academic subjects will not be easy and may be some reason why at least 13 government quangos such a the Sector Skills Councils (that identify the required competences) to the UK Commission for Education and Skills (that has to find ways of engaging employers) have been created.

So where will IT will be used for these youngsters?

Just a short (and not comprehensive) list:

  • Information and Guidance systems which assess students abilities, provide career and labour market intelligence information and provide the opportunities to record ‘action plans’.
  • Local prospectus systems that identify the opportunitie available within schools

  • Systems that support employers in providing the necessary information for work placements

  • Systems that support the students and their advisors in finding work placements.

  • Tracking systems that monitor the attendance and progress of students at school, college and in work placement

  • Content delivery systems that provide underpinning knowledge in an innovative and interactive way. (Comeback learning objects!)

  • Portfolio systems that store validated students achievements for assessment.

  • Online testing systems for key/ functional skills and the underpinning knowledge for the Technical Certificate

  • Qualification awarding and recording systems that are linked to the Qualification and Credit Framework.

  • Support networks for teachers that provide exemplars of good practice and resources.

  • Systems that ‘feed’ attendance and achievement data to national DCFS collection systems.

  • …..

……….and the challenge for JISC.

Given that the Unique Learner Number will enable infinite opportunities for collation and aggregation, to identify where data standards and the interoperation of systems are required and how privacy and security can be maintained.

As mentioned in earlier blogs, this work will be conducted within a context of government imposed tight delivery deadlines and a commercial provider sector will exploit the open doors to provide quick and profitable solutions.

On a personal note, my apprenticeship is now over and having obtained my qualification for a bus pass, this will be my final blog for CETIS.

I would like thank all those friends within the JISC community that have made my work so satisfying and enjoyable and wish you all success, happiness and good health for the future.

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