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What are Flexible Apprenticeships?

We’ve seen many changes in the world of work over recent years. Employers can no longer rely on a steady stream of job candidates, while today’s employees want to feel a sense of purpose in their work. They want to try new things, to upskill and reskill and to have their value recognised.

The good news is that apprenticeships are continually adapting to meet these shifting demands. In fact, a new flexible system being explored by the Government could unlock meaningful opportunities for both employers and apprentices.

Introducing front-loading

Apprenticeships continue to play an invaluable role in helping to unlock stills quickly and to allow motivated staff to fast-track into positions where they can provide real value. However, the flexible working patterns currently under consideration by the Government could make this process even faster.

Among the options being explored is a new ‘front-loading’ approach where an apprentice receives intensive off-the-job training before they begin their formal responsibilities. Essentially, this would teach key skills and technical knowledge from the outset, while key behaviours and practical skills will continue to be embedded throughout the full apprenticeship programme.

For sectors struggling with staff shortages, such as hospitality and retail, front-loaded training could prove invaluable in helping apprentices to hit the ground running and make a real contribution to their workplaces from the very start. For example, we’re currently facing a national shortage of chefs, but the time required to train someone through current methods isn’t quick enough to meet this demand.

Getting to know accelerated apprenticeships

It’s not only how the training is delivered that can be flexible. Apprentices who have some prior knowledge or skills before starting their apprenticeship can have this recognised as prior learning.

Accelerated apprenticeships allow an employer to adjust the length of an apprenticeship for an individual who has existing relevant knowledge or skills. For instance, anyone new to hospitality who has a background in customer service is likely to already have some of the essential skills needed in our sector and wouldn’t need as deep a level of training in this area. It would also be relevant for an apprentice whose completed a related qualification – for example, a T Level or Skills Bootcamp.

A shorter training programme is not only a more cost-effective approach for an employer, but would reduce the time an individual has to spend as an apprentice. However, it is also worth noting that the law requires an apprentice maintains their minimum programme time of 12 months.

If an apprenticeship is reduced in duration by at least three months, it becomes an accelerated apprenticeship.

Understanding flexi-job apprenticeships

Another training model to consider is flexi-job apprenticeships’, which are designed to ensure that sectors and occupations, where short-term contracts or other non-standard employment models are the norm, can access the benefits of apprenticeships too

They are available to employers and apprentices in 2 ways.

  1. With the involvement of a flexi-job apprenticeship agency: where an agency employs the apprentice directly for the duration of their apprenticeship but arranges placements for the apprentice with host businesses.
  2. Without the involvement of an agency: where the apprentice is able to secure multiple short employment contracts directly with businesses that support the requirements of the apprenticeship. Supported by their training provider, the apprentice takes their learning and progress with them as they move between employment contracts (perhaps with a gap between each) and change employers. This model is often described as a portable flexi-job apprenticeship.

Embracing flexibility

With flexible apprenticeships, employers can look at what skills they need for their workforce now – and what they’re likely to need in the future – and choose a tailored approach.

For years, apprenticeships have made it easier for employers to unlock skills quickly and fast-track new recruits into positions where they can provide real value – while offering career longevity to the talented individuals they already rely on. Flexible apprenticeships will formalise this process and are set to bring big rewards to both hospitality businesses and their employees.

Feeling inspired? Get in touch with our friendly team today to find out more about how tailored training can work for your hospitality business.

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