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Read a selection of our press releases.

The thrill of skills

EAL learners do battle in Birmingham

Some of British industry’s most talented young people are going head to head to compete for gold and a place in Team UK for WorldSkills International.

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Standards set for plumbing

New apprenticeship trailblazers for plumbing, announced by the Government as part of the third phase of its successful Trailblazers scheme, has been hailed as a great opportunity for the industry.

EAL, the specialist awarding organisation for industry, is working alongside employers, trade associations, training providers and professional institutes to develop an apprenticeship framework for plumbing and domestic heating technicians, based on the standards drawn up by employers with the support of Summit Skills – the standard-setting organisation for the building services engineering sector.

EAL Product specialist Jason Marsland said: “It is a great opportunity for employers within the plumbing sector to define standards and skills for the plumbing apprentices of today and the future. EAL is proud to be a part of this Trailblazer programme.”

Julia Chippendale, managing director of EAL, said: “EAL has always worked closely with employers to ensure its qualifications meet their needs and the needs of learners. The government’s apprenticeship reforms are taking this policy nationally, spearheaded by the Trailblazer scheme. This is helping to cement apprenticeships’ key role in the economic future of the country.

“Trailblazers are seeing employers, awarding organisations and professional institutes working together to set new standards for apprenticeships meet skills needs, increasing the value of the vocational pathway, ensuring learners are getting a better deal from their education and the best possible start to their careers.”

The new Trailblazer standard for plumbing will include:

  • Apprenticeship duration
  • job role profile
  • entry requirements and expected behaviours
  • technical skills and knowledge requirements
  • a description of the learning and training phases
  • assessment requirements
  • employer sign off procedures
  • external recognition by professional institutions.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “I congratulate EAL for the key role it is playing in developing new top-quality apprenticeships. Through the trailblazers initiative employer groups, in collaboration with their industry partners, will give people the skills they need to thrive and our businesses need to compete.”

Launched in October 2013, the trailblazers initiative aims to ensure that every apprentice in England is enrolled on a scheme that has been designed and approved by employers. More than 300 apprentices have now started on approved standards since September 2014 in the automotive and energy and utilities sectors with further starts planned soon.

For the latest on Trailblazers visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk and visit the Standards and Development page.

Enginuity Group hails Trailblazer announcement

Enginuity and EAL has welcomed today’s Government announcement that more than 700 employers are to design 76 new apprenticeship standards as part of the third phase of its successful Trailblazers scheme.

Employers from across 37 more trailblazing sectors ranging from aerospace, automotive and nuclear to fashion and the armed forces, are designing new apprenticeships to best meet the skills needs of their industries.

It will bring the total number of employers involved in designing apprenticeships as part of the trailblazers project to more than 1,000.

At the request of employers, skills specialist Enginuity , which represents 138,000 companies in the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Sector, plays a key role in the design and development of new Apprenticeship standards in England - being heavily involved in Trailblazers in the aerospace, automotive, marine maritime and other advanced manufacturing sectors, providing impartial advice, guidance and technical expertise.

Semta’s chief executive, Sarah Sillars, OBE said: “We are delighted and proud to play such a major role in the Trailblazers project. Working alongside employers, training providers and our own awarding organisation EAL, we have developed robust, flexible standards in keeping with the needs of modern industry.

“We have ensured the new standards are short, simple, accessible and written by employers in language they understand. We will continue to ensure they are fit for purpose and will deliver a coherent, stretching and quality assured programme of technical skills and knowledge development.”

Julia Chippendale, managing director of EAL, the specialist awarding organisation for industry, said: “EAL has always worked closely with employers to ensure its qualifications meet their needs and the needs of learners.  The government’s apprenticeship reforms are taking this policy national, spearheaded by the Trailblazer scheme. This is helping to cement apprenticeships’ key role in the economic future of the country.

“Trailblazers are seeing employers, awarding organisations and professional institutes working together to set new standards for apprenticeships meet skills needs, increasing the value of the vocational pathway, ensuring learners are getting a better deal from their education and the best possible start to their careers.”

Each new Trailblazer standard will include:

  • Apprenticeship duration
  • job role profile
  • entry requirements and expected behaviours
  • technical skills and knowledge requirements
  • a description of the learning and training phases
  • assessment requirements
  • employer sign off procedures
  • external recognition by professional institutions.

One additional aspect of the new aerospace and automotive standards is the necessity for apprentices to achieve a number of vocational qualifications. Enginuity will ensure these qualifications fit within the new frameworks, reflect employers’ requirements, and are implemented consistently by awarding organisations, training providers and colleges.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Across the country apprenticeships are a driving force behind getting young people the skills that employers want and the economy needs. Our reforms have empowered businesses large and small to design and deliver world-beating apprenticeships that offer a real route to a successful career.”

Launched in October 2013, the trailblazers initiative aims to ensure that every apprentice in England is enrolled on a scheme that has been designed and approved by employers. More than 300 apprentices have now started on approved standards since September 2014 in the automotive and energy and utilities sectors with further starts planned soon.

 

Lift off for Heathrow University Technical College

Students study EAL qualifications alongside GCSEs and A Levels

The first intake of over 100 pupils has landed at Heathrow Aviation Engineering UTC (University Technical College) where they will study industry-leading qualifications and gain hands-on experience alongside traditional examinations, giving them a flying start to a career in engineering.

The EAL Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Performing Engineering Operations and the EAL Level 2 First Diploma in Engineering Technology will be studied alongside GCSEs and A Levels at Heathrow UTC in Northwood, North West London, which opened its doors this week.

Julia Chippendale, managing director of EAL, the specialist, employer-recognised awarding organisation for the engineering, manufacturing, building services and related sectors, said: “EAL is delighted to be working alongside our industry partners to develop qualifications which add a new dimension to the school curriculum.

“This is an exciting new era for the teaching of technical skills and Heathrow UTC will transform the opportunities for young people who aspire to enter a career in engineering. It will keep the talent pipeline flowing in the aviation sector, bringing skills which are critical to the future of the UK’s economy.”

Heathrow UTC caters for students aged 14-19. It has developed its curriculum with its employer partners - British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Heathrow and RAF Northolt - creating courses which combine academic and technical excellence with motivational, work-related learning experiences to improve students’ employability within the engineering sector.

Students joining the UTC at 14 will spend 40% of their time doing technical qualifications and gaining hands-on experience, alongside studying for GCSEs.

Post-16 students will spend 60% of their time on engineering studies including hands-on projects with the UTC’s employer partners, work placements and the opportunity of apprenticeships.  They will study for A Levels, alongside EAL’s industry qualifications using the apprenticeship framework developed by skills organisation Enginuity .

Heathrow UTC’s Principal, Bryan Berry said: “Our students will experience an exciting and vibrant learning environment that encourages and develops independent thought, self-discipline, motivation and confidence.

“Our partnership with EAL is a key component in our curriculum as it will equip our students with highly regarded industry-led qualifications which will not only help gain them entry into the aviation sector but also give them the skills to enter a wide variety of engineering careers.

“We are delighted to be open and we look forward to the day our first intake complete their studies, ready to apply what they have learned in the workplace.”

Brunel University London is also sponsoring Heathrow UTC, providing the Higher Education link to its students, while other partners include the Aviation Skills Partnership -  created to transform the approach to skills and career development in the aviation sector – the QED Academy Trust, Uxbridge College and Hillingdon Borough Council.

Aviation Skills Partnership’s chief executive Simon Witts said: “I am delighted that this pioneering project has now reached the exciting stage where the first group of students are embarking on their learning.  We first became involved in the UTC project in November 2013 and since then our partnership with the UTC, the industry partners and with EAL has resulted in the production of a curriculum for aviation engineering that has the right blend of academic and industry elements.  

“I am confident that with the rich subject areas and disciplines on offer for the students, they will achieve the right blend of practical and academic skills that the industry needs. 

“We will continue to develop the curriculum as the programme develops and look forward to developing our relationship with EAL further alongside our other partners.”

Apprentices are the power behind the railways

New EAL qualification launched to support £38billion investment in rail network

The UK’s first apprentice engineers for rail overhead power lines on Britain’s railways have started work to help ensure an ambitious £38billion investment plan is on track.

rail-olc-apprentices

Fourteen young people began their training this month after being chosen from more than 200 applicants aged 18-24 to become the country’s first OLEC based (Overhead Line Equipment Construction) apprentices, working towards a unique qualification from EAL, the specialist awarding organisation for industry.

The apprentices will join rail industry experts at a ceremony at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium today (September 16) to officially launch the scheme.

SPL Powerlines, a world leading engineering and installation company focussed on the electrification of overhead lines, partnered with specialist training provider Intertrain and EAL to devise and deliver the 18-month apprenticeship.

The students will work towards an EAL Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Rail Engineering Overhead Line Construction and an EAL Level 2 Certificate in Rail Engineering Underpinning Knowledge.

They underwent a rigorous selection process, involving a series of assessments and practical tests before being chosen by SPL to start their apprenticeships.

Each will have an individual training plan combining classroom learning with practical, on-the-job training and regular assessment throughout their apprenticeships. They will be utilising the Rail Engineering Overhead Line Construction Apprenticeship framework developed by Enginuity , the organisation responsible for engineering skills for the future, working in close partnership with the rail industry.

It is estimated overhead power lines sector will need around 2,000 skilled workers by 2016 which is 10 times the current capacity.

Simon Talman, Operations Director for SPL Powerlines UK said “The investment in rail electrification over the next ten years will be a welcoming challenge for us and our competitors. The growth that we all need to establish is an exciting time for our industry and having good people across all activity roles is crucial for our success. This is just the start with the apprenticeship programme and something I would encourage all rail electrification contractors to pursue, so we can collaboratively meet the UK challenge with quality and safe delivery.”

Alex Pond, Intertrain’s Operations Director said: “You need a vocational qualification to be a plumber or joiner but up until now not to be a rail engineer. SPL is a very forward thinking company and together with EAL we have devised and are now delivering the first vocational qualifications which will go a long way to rail being able to class itself as a skilled industry.”

Julia Chippendale, MD of EAL said: “Britain’s rail network is undergoing a major transformation and with schemes like HS2 and Network Rail’s National Electrification Project (NEP) this work is going to continue for many years to come. We are delighted to be the awarding body for the first ever qualification in overhead powerline electrical construction. It is vital we grow the skills pipeline to deliver such a major programme of works.”

SPL is already looking at recruiting the next intake, while Intertrain and EAL are looking to develop a Level 3 qualification to ensure the apprentices have a career progression route once they qualify.

Earlier this year Network Rail unveiled its ambitious £38billion investment plan, targeting improvements at the busiest parts of Britain’s rail network.

Work began in April on what has been described by Government as the biggest modernisation of railways since Victorian times and apprenticeships are key to ensure there is a skilled workforce to deliver all the requirements of the project.

Motorsport industry skills secure with EAL awards

BRITISH racing drivers have been reaping the glory while, behind the scenes, motorsport employers faced a skills crisis, specialist awarding organisation EAL has said.

A partnership between EAL, The National College for Motorsport and the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) will safeguard the progression of apprentices and other learners at key British motorsport businesses.

The £9bn UK motorsport industry has, to date, largely qualified its new technician talent with unrelated qualifications based on the retail car sector – but now specialist vocational awards have been launched to plug the skills gap.

Julia Chippendale (pictured above), Managing Director of EAL, said: “While Britain’s racing drivers and teams enjoyed another great season at the Formula One World Championship, World Rally Championship and Grand Prix motorcycle racing, among other key motorsport events, behind the scenes the talent pipeline of race technicians was straining under the industry’s accelerating success.

“Working with the National College of Motorsport and the MIA, we identified a crucial gap in provision in the motorsport industry. In partnership with employers, we have developed bespoke, nationally accredited qualifications to secure the skills pipeline and help thousands of learners enter into this exciting industry.”

Chris Aylett is Chief Executive of the MIA, which represents the industry of over 4000 companies, employing 40,000 people in the UK. He said: “Qualifications previously tended to derive from unrelated awards created for the retail motor vehicle sector – not our world-beating £9bn UK motorsport industry. These qualifications did not resemble work being carried out by race and rally technicians and mechanics, and so persistently fell short of the expectations of employers in our sector.”

Jim Harrod, Head of School at the National College for Motorsport, added: “Without credible qualifications designed to meet the needs of the motorsport industry, it will be difficult to expand our provision at Silverstone to provide good progression for students into this demanding sector. I feel it is crucial a credible pathway for race technician training is forged to ensure that learners wishing to follow this exciting career can do so.”

EAL, which awards qualifications in the engineering and manufacturing sector, has developed two Vocationally Related Qualifications (VRQs) specifically for the motorsport industry:

•    EAL Level 2 Diploma in Engineering Technology – Motorsport
•    EAL Level 3 Diploma in Engineering Technology – Motorsport

Generation of Brits being lost in educational "charge of the trite brigade"

A generation of British youngsters – who receive their A-level results this week – are in danger of losing out on rewarding careers in industry because they are being driven away from vocational pathways – in a "Charge of the Trite Brigade".

Elizabeth Bonfield, Head of Business Innovation at EAL, warns that ignorance, prejudice, poor careers advice and the about to be reformed league table system means that the pursuance of ‘trite’ pointless low-level degrees will once again cost the country dear.

Specialist awarding organisation EAL – which oversees qualifications in numerous industry sectors including engineering, manufacturing, plumbing and electrical services – warns that the skills gap could get worse before it gets better.

EAL believes that the disconnect between education and industry will cost the country dear – and leave many youngsters ill equipped for fulfilling and rewarding careers.

“This is a grave situation which has been in the making for decades,” said Elizabeth.

“The pursuance of low value often meaningless university degrees is still being led by those that influence the decision making of our young people.

“Parents and educators are still leading huge numbers of able young people down the wrong path towards unemployment or dead end jobs.

“This is nothing short of a ‘Charge of the Trite Brigade’ – a national tragedy.”

The Industry Apprentice Council (pictured below) – the body supported by EAL and run by apprentices from across the country – issued a damning report on careers advice and parental knowledge regarding vocational pathways to work.

Less than 9% of the almost 600 apprentice respondents said that they found out about their apprenticeship through either their teacher or careers advisor.

The numbers drop to 6% for those who found out about apprenticeships via either careers fairs or the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS). In fact, more than 50% said their own initiative was the key to learning about apprenticeships, with more than 35% using online research and 24% through a family member. Indeed, 13.4% said a suggestion from their parents was the catalyst, while 15% said a friend.

The survey, issued earlier this year, revealed that less than a quarter of apprentices were encouraged to follow the apprenticeship pathway by their school or college. Nearly 40% of those that responded to the survey said the careers advice they received in school or college was either poor or very poor, with a further 7% claiming they did not receive any advice or guidance at all. Only 23% rated their school or colleges’ careers information, advice and guidance as good or very good.

“Industry is still a vital component of the British economy – which has weathered the recession and is growing fast.   

“We need one million new skilled workers in the engineering sector alone in the next six years to cope with demand – and as it stands that just won’t happen.” said Elizabeth.

“There were around 800,000 people on apprenticeships across a wide range of sectors in 2012/13 compared to nearly 2,500,000 taking university degrees – an improvement on recent years but still a woeful differential.”

Educators and government have been asked to take a long hard look at their careers advice offering – and make urgent changes.

Among the series of proposals are:

•    cross-party talks involving government, educators and industry
•    UCAS style clearing house arrangements for apprenticeships/traineeships and other placements
•    an urgent inquiry in to the Careers Service.

The UK needs to create more than one million engineering jobs before 2020 to meet the demands of Advanced Manufacturers.

Northern Ireland college first to switch to specialist awarding organisation EAL

A FUTURE generation of electrical workers in Northern Ireland will become the first in the country to be accredited by EAL, the specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications.

North West Regional College is the first in Northern Ireland to engage EAL – taking the awarding organisation’s full suite of electrical qualifications from September.

The college is impressed with the flexibility of the qualifications on offer, which feature an emphasis on practical training and assessment rather than being over-burdened on the administration side.

Aidan Boyle, North West Regional College’s Curriculum manager, said his team had been impressed with the commitment of the EAL team.

“EAL has made every effort to ensure they knew what colleges and industry in Northern Ireland require,” he said.

“The guys are knowledgeable. They have been lecturers or worked in industry and have a real feel for what the students and the lecturers have to go through.

“The qualifications are that bit more innovative than what I have seen from other awarding bodies. I felt assignments were taking over the practical aspects whereas the EAL qualifications strike the right balance – with a focus on online modules and not too many written assignments.”

Two of the college’s students – William Falconer and Adrian Canning – have made it into the UK squad for WorldSkills, having won gold for electrical installation at the UK event, and they will find out later this year if they will be competing in Brazil next summer.

William Falconer, North West Regional College electrical installation student and member of the UK squad for WorldSkills Brazil 2015

Mr Boyle said the fact the college was making the move to EAL shows the faith they have in the qualifications on offer and hope to get even more success in World Skills competitions.

North West Regional College is a leading provider of further and higher education and skills training.  The College’s three main campuses in Derry~Londonderry, Limavady, and Strabane boast modern and industry-standard learning environments, at which over 20,000 students achieve their personal educational goals, through full and part-time study every year.

“We are not changing for the sake of it,” said Aidan. “We have very positive working relationship with EAL and we want to build on that. They have offered great advice and guidance – other colleges are also recognising this.

“It makes perfect sense for us to go with a suite of qualifications which are pragmatic, innovative and responsive to the needs of people – whether that is the student, the lecturer or the employer.”

The college is now looking at others areas covered by EAL, such as plumbing.

“EAL knows its market,” said Aidan. “For example the wider UK domestic heating is gas and so plumbing is taught accordingly. In Northern Ireland, the market is still oil and will be for at least the next 20 years.

“EAL is working to see how its qualifications can be adapted for this market which is something all colleges and employers in Northern Ireland’s building services would welcome. This sort of innovative approach is one of the reasons why we have switched to EAL.”

Julia Chippendale, Managing Director of EAL, said: “We are delighted to welcome North West Regional College to the EAL family and as our first college partner in Northern Ireland.

“We hope it is the start of a long-term partnership that will help raise the skill levels in Northern Ireland, equipping students with industry-leading qualifications.

“EAL is proud of our close working relationships with the employers and sectors we serve. Each of EAL’s team of External Verifiers (EVs) is a fully qualified, time-served professional in the sector they support – and this expertise ensures we can provide quality and relevance to our rigorous and nationally recognised qualifications.”

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