SOE leading on new apprenticeship standards

Published:  02 December, 2015

The Society of Operations Engineers (SOE) is playing a major part in the development of three new commercial vehicle apprenticeship standards.

These standards are part of the government's Trailblazer scheme, a UK-wide, employer-led initiative to design apprenticeship standards that respond to the needs of their industries. Current standards cover a wide range of sectors, from accountancy to renewable energy, and undergo a thorough process of development and approval.

The three standards that SOE is helping to develop are for Heavy Vehicle Service and Maintenance Technician, Bus and Coach Technician, and Bus and Coach Engineering Manager. The group overseeing their development, which includes SOE, comprises of representatives from over a dozen operators and manufacturers, and is collaborating with assessment organisations and training partners to determine the detailed content, and how they will be taught and assessed.

The group is currently developing assessment plans ready for submission to the Department for Business Innovation and Skillsin the first quarter of 2016; if successful, the new standards should be ready for delivery in September 2016.

‘These bus, coach and HGV standards will benefit these sectors by putting the onus on training providers to ensure that apprentices are equipped with the skills and knowledge of, not just existing, but of latest and emerging technologies,' explainsed Lloyd Mason EngTech FSOE FIRTE, engineering development manager for Arriva UK Bus, who is chairing the development group.

‘One belief that employers have is that the content of the current apprenticeship frameworks lags behind developments in the HGV and bus & coach sectors. In addition, I believe that assessing the behaviour of apprentice, including their capabilities and conduct, will result in greater professionalism in these industries as a whole. Introducing a system of grading will also enable employers to identify apprentices with outstanding potential and target the right candidates for further development and progression.'

The new standards will be mapped to the requirements of Engineering Council's UK-SPEC, meaning that, on completion, an apprentice will be eligible to apply for registration at EngTech level. As the sole Professional Engineering Institution on the development group, SOE will play a key role in facilitating this.

Lloyd continued: ‘The government has stipulated that Trailblazer standards should be high-quality and world-leading and present apprenticeships as a viable and real choice, and an alternative to university. If we can do this, and ensure that HGV and bus & coach apprenticeships are seen as strong routes to a career with prospects, it will go a long way to increasing the number of apprentices we currently have, and addressing the shortage of skilled engineers. This I know would be welcomed by all employers, large and small.'

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