Following, what was described as the biggest shake up in vocational training for a generation in May 2017, with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and the creation of new Apprenticeship Standards, there has been much debate about the pros and cons of the new look programmes and the move away from frameworks.

Here we try and establish what this means, the differences between frameworks and Standards, whether the two are interchangeable, and the impact it will have for you as an employer depending on which route you choose.

Simply put, an apprenticeship Standard is a programme of work developed by employers from an industry that have come together in groups called “trailblazers.” These Trailblazers have developed the Standards for the relevant occupations within their industry, which means they are aligned to what employers feel is needed in the workforce and will develop the skills an apprentice will need to be capable and qualified in that and future roles.

Standards have a minimum term of 12 months, and take as long to complete as an apprentice needs to become competent in their role,. They include all the skills, knowledge and behaviours employers feel an apprentice needs to start and progress in the workplace.

An apprenticeship framework, meanwhile is developed by sector bodies to assess Apprenticeships. Frameworks are therefore, primarily qualification-focused. The main aim at the end of a framework is to have achieved a competency-based qualification, such as an NVQ, and a technical qualification, such as a BTEC.

Each framework contains pathways that lay out a learning plan for each different role, for example the business administration apprenticeship contains pathways that would be valuable to a marketing assistant role. So, whilst they are both a type of apprenticeship, they aren’t interchangeable.

The benefits of using a framework to assess an apprentice is that they will work through a learning journey focusing on units or modules that are each related to their job role or pathway. Each unit will usually contain practical and theory elements which can be observed or marked by an assessor. Once a unit is completed the apprentice moves on to the next one and so their progression through their qualification can be monitored and tracked.

The main benefit of the new Standards is that they are occupation focused and not qualification led, meaning if your business were to use a framework, your apprentice still may need further training in their role. Standards have an end point assessment conducted by an independent, registered apprentice assessment organisation to prove that apprentices can carry out all aspects of their job role and are ready for work. Comparatively, when undertaking a framework apprentices are subject to ongoing assessment so there is no end point assessment to assess their ability performing their role.

You can still use your Levy funds on an approved framework with a registered training provider such as Remit, but as all frameworks are being removed by 2020 it might be advisable to select a Standard instead.

If you aren’t sure which Standards are most suitable for your business, it’s worth speaking to Remit’s Levy experts who have up to date knowledge on all Standards and can help select the most appropriate programme for your team or your business goals.

To find out more about using your Apprenticeship Levy visit our page by clicking here.