National Apprenticeship Week 2021 | 8th to 12th February 2021
Shining a light on the amazing work being done by employers and apprentices across the country.
Blog Post by Dominic Gill, Managing Director of Intequal, Apprenticeship Policy Consultant, and Trustee for Ufi VocTech Trust
Harnessing technology appropriately is more important than ever if we are to address the challenges presented by the pandemic to vocational education and especially apprenticeships.
Many of the changes we’ve witnessed over the last 12 months to people’s working and learning environments will not be temporary. A quarter of all workers are currently working from home exclusively and we need to ensure early-in-careers programmes such as apprenticeships meet this change.
Since National Apprenticeships Week 2020 we’ve seen how important it is for apprentices to understand digital basics such as collaboration & communication, handling data securely, and organisational security to enable remote working. These skills should now be seen as fundamental building blocks for, if not all, the vast majority of people entering a new career.
It’s equally important to ensure we fully understand how to use digital skills to consume and deliver the training required to equip this new workforce.
Technology itself is not the answer
Apprenticeships are options not only for the digital native generation: they are also now especially important to older learners looking for a career change or needing to retrain to stay relevant.
We must therefore consider how best to adapt teaching styles to ensure a digital approach feels accessible to all to meet their specific learning or occupational requirements.
Ufi has been a champion of the use of digital technology to change the way individuals, employers, and UK society view vocational skills. The Skills for Jobs White Paper gives us an opportunity to help accelerate and firmly embed this change across not only apprenticeships but all vocational training. In our response to the White Paper, Ufi’s CEO Rebecca Garrod-Waters stated that “it is clear that technology will underpin all of the intent within the White Paper”.
However, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach will not work if we are to truly meet actual employer demand at both a national and local level.
Technology can be used to individualise programmes to fit specific occupations, sectors, and learning styles but this needs to be balanced by appropriateness to specific circumstances. Let’s ensure we take this opportunity and lessons learned to build an apprenticeship system fit to meet our post-pandemic world!