Richard Review of Apprenticeships is Published

First published on Tue, November 27, 2012.

The Richard Review was commissioned by BIS and led by social entrepreneur Doug Richard. It sets out to ask what the apprenticeship system should look like in the future in order to meet the needs of the changing economy.

The Review, to which Creative & Cultural Skills submitted evidence, sets out a series of recommendations designed to ensure a flexible, high quality and genuinely employer-led apprenticeship system.

Defining Apprenticeships

The definition of what constitutes an apprenticeship has, Richard argues, been stretched too far. The review offers a clear definition of what an apprenticeship should be: a job role which is new to the individual, requires them to learn a substantial amount, and prepares them to do this new job effectively. All apprenticeships should last at least a year.


Richard proposes that a flexible system would offer a few clear standards - preferably one per occupation - which set out in a way that is meaningful to employers what it means to be fully competent in that occupation.

Competition for Qualification Development

In the future, individual employers, employer partnerships or other organisations with the relevant expertise should be invited to design and develop apprenticeship qualifications for their sectors, potentially working in collaboration with Sector Skills Councils.

Flexible Training

The current system is not responsive enough to changing business demands. Some sectors - particularly highly technical and creative industries - require flexibility within apprenticeship frameworks to allow for rapid inclusion of new techniques or procedures into training. As long as apprentices meet set standards by the end of their training, employers should be free to train by whichever means they believe most relevant.

Training Providers

The Review encourages flexibility and innovation in the delivery of apprenticeships, and cites Group Training Associations and Apprenticeship Training Associations, both of which Creative & Cultural Skills facilitate, as successful training provision models.


Government funding must create the right incentives to encourage apprenticeship training. The cost of training should continue to be shared by employers, learners and the government but Richard recommends that funding is redirected to place purchase power for training in the hands of employers. The government should also acknowledge the extra challenges faced by small businesses or younger apprentices, potentially paying more in those instances.

The government will issue a full response in the New Year.

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