COMMENT: Sector passion evident at Annual Apprenticeship Conference

Posted on: 19th Mar 2024

Neville Algar, Head of Education at Ignite Training, reflects on this year’s Annual Apprenticeship Conference – held at the ICC in Birmingham

There were multiple key take outs from this year’s Annual Apprenticeship Conference (AAC) which myself and my colleagues Justin Merritt and Sorcha Murphy attended last month.

It was the 10th time the AAC had been held and provided an opportunity for industry experts to bring attention to policies, funding and the evolving landscapes of apprenticeships amid a backdrop of economic challenges and skill shortages.

In total there were 80 speakers, 50 exhibitors, 60 workshops and over 1,200 guests. For me, from the keynote speeches, panel discussions and breakout sessions there were several consistent messages which were voiced.

Firstly, our industry is so, so, passionate about the development of apprentices – who are at the heart of every aspect of our operation as a registered training provider. We prioritise their access to new opportunities, their personal growth and wellbeing and – as a provider – we look at our own capability to provide and deliver.

Hearing and witnessing the passion among sector colleagues is truly inspirational, and makes me proud to be part of a sector which can genuinely transform not only individual lives, but also organisations who show that commitment we know can be so impactful by investing in apprentices.

Also speaking at the AAC was Shadow Minister for Skills Seema Malhotra MP. It was clear from her address to visitors that should a new Government be formed at the next general election, change to levy funding spend is on the way.

It would be change which would provide employers with more flexibility and opportunity to tailor and focus our provisions, which in turn will support employers to meet specific needs and the concerning growth in skills gaps.

Martin Oliver – the newly appointed Chief Inspector of Ofsted – outlined what I considered a ‘real world’ approach to inspection which would consider the great work the majority of sector providers deliver.

His background and experience lends itself to a joined up and supportive approach to ensuring quality of services within the sector remains high, but the ‘fear factor’ – which in my personal opinion erodes true innovation in delivery – is removed.

A more balanced approach will be adopted moving forwards which will be underpinned on collaboration, removal of ambiguity and better information and communication. It’s a welcome approach, but – as ever – it’s in the implementation where it counts, not the speech.

All in all, the AAC was a fantastic event. Networking and information gathering opportunities are endless, but more importantly the two days underlined why I love apprenticeships and the important role Ignite Training plays in delivering personal growth and success to our learners.

Neville Algar, Head of Education at Ignite Training.

About Ignite Training

Established in 1999, Ignite’s primary aim is to actively inspire people, and to help create a sense of achievement for everyone. Based in Oxford and operating nationally, we provide a portfolio of training and services to individuals, schools and the sports industry, ranging from weekly clubs for tots to adult courses and apprenticeships.

About Ignite Training