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Car industry driving new standards in apprenticeships

On Monday 29th October, Prime Minister, David Cameron visited the MINI plant at Oxford to announce measures to reform apprenticeships. The plans form part of a drive to provide better quality for learners and easier use and administration for employers. These reforms are designed to give more control over standards in apprenticeships to the employers who provide them, positioning the UK as a leader in apprenticeship employability.

On Monday 29th October, Prime Minister, David Cameron visited the MINI plant at Oxford to announce measures to reform apprenticeships. The plans form part of a drive to provide better quality for learners and easier use and administration for employers. These reforms are designed to give more control over standards in apprenticeships to the employers who provide them, positioning the UK as a leader in apprenticeship employability. BMW Group UK, who manufacture the MINI at the Oxford plant, are at the forefront of the strategy. The car maker has joined a band of 60 companies, organised into groups known as 'Trailblazers' to make sure that industry employers have the ability to shape apprenticeships to the needs of industry.

There is a total of eight Trailblazer groups representing a wide range of industries. In addition to the automotive industry, there are groups representing food and beverages, digital, energy, aerospace, electro-technical, financial services and life and industrial sciences. These groups have come up with a framework for the make-up of the new look apprenticeships that will include a host of new features. The apprentice programmes will now be designed by the employer, to ensure that skills learnt by the apprentice are completely relevant to industry requirements. There will be a new emphasis on quality, with courses concluding with tough assessments for the apprentice. The levels of qualification will be rearranged into easier to understand gradings that denote the level of achievement, made up of pass, merit or distinction.

The Prime Minister explained: "If you want an apprenticeship, we're going to make sure you do the best apprenticeship in the world. The reforms we're announcing today will put employers in the driving seat and ensure that we deliver rigorous training that supports you and our economy for years to come."

Managing Director of the MINI plant in Oxford, Dr Frank Bachmann, added: "As a major employer of apprentices, BMW Group is supporting this important skills initiative which is designed to develop the first apprenticeship standards across many industrial sectors including automotive. We're delighted to host and help launch this new government programme."

The new apprenticeships are slated to be ready to take the first intake of apprentices onto the revised schemes in late 2014. The move comes at a time when UK car production, domestic sales and exports are all growing. This is in stark contrast to a declining industry across the rest of Europe and the Government is determined to cement the country's position as a leading force in car manufacture, while rebalancing the economy away from services towards engineering.

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