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Lucite International (LI), along with Lotte Chemical UK and SABIC also based on Teesside in the north of England, has celebrated the enrolment of a group of new apprentices, who are joining their new employers as trainee Laboratory Technicians and Science Manufacturing Technicians – two totally new apprenticeships that form part of the UK Government’s revolutionary new Apprenticeship Standards.

Developed jointly by employers and Cogent, which works in alliance with employers to develop, design and deploy skills solutions for the science industries, the new Apprenticeship Standards are all part of the Government’s Trailblazer initiative. The new Standards are more closely aligned to the specific occupational requirements of science-based companies, and in 2017 will completely replace current Apprenticeship Frameworks.

The Trailblazer concept first came to light following the publication of the Richard Review, which set out the future of Apprenticeships in England. Employers have long pressed for radical changes and innovative approaches that reflect the skills needs of the country’s pioneering science economy. Stephen Trillo, HR OD Director describes why Apprenticeship Award winner Lotte Chemical UK became involved in the Trailblazer initiative. Stephen said: “We need to attract good young people into our industry which requires us to reach out to the local community to bridge the gap between school and business for young people. Like any business it is important that our existing employees transfer their skills and expertise to the next generation to provide a skilled and talented pipeline of apprentices that will be able to ensure the success of the business now and into the future. We firmly believe that getting involved in developing the new Apprenticeship Standards via the Trailblazer initiative will give people in the region the required skills and knowledge through robust and sustainable training programmes that will help companies move forward, maintain competitiveness and enable them to plan their future manpower from a pool of talented, trained and competent people.”

Unlike the more traditional approach to Apprenticeship delivery, the new Standards train the apprentice to a job ‘landing role’, ie. the job the apprentice will undertake once the Apprenticeship has concluded, and not to a level or a prescribed qualification as with the Apprenticeship Frameworks model. Perhaps one of the biggest changes in the new approach is that the competency of the apprentice is measured through assessment in the workplace, so work experience is extremely important and reinforces the on-the-job aspect of the Apprenticeship. Progression is also built into the standards, again training to a job role as opposed to a prescribed level, the ability to include higher education and professional recognition further enhances new Apprenticeship standards.

LI’s Cassel Site Director, Melanie Jury, said: “Lucite International has been proud to sponsor apprentices for over 10 years and we’ve been fortunate to be able to employ the vast majority of those apprentices at the end of their training. We have welcomed the opportunity to play our part in reshaping the Apprenticeship structure into the new Standard, which we believe will improve the synergy between apprentices’ learning and the needs of businesses to mutual benefit. We believe that the new Standard will be of significant benefit to each apprentice as it focuses on the key requirements of the role for which they are being developed and helps ensure they can make a more immediate contribution to business success. The introduction of a synoptic end assessment will give the apprentice the confidence that they have reached the required standard and they can successfully take up a position anywhere in the sector, while the introduction of grades within the Apprenticeship can provide recognition of their hard work. The focus on behaviours in the new standard means that apprentices will receive clear guidance and development of the behaviours that will help bring them career success. This year, we have invested in six apprentices here in the North East who will be among the first to experience the Trailblazer pilot programme and we are delighted to accompany them on this journey.”

By partnering with professional bodies during the design stage of the new apprenticeship standards, employers can ensure that every apprentice will have the opportunity to become registered through the Science Council when they complete their training.