News round up: apprentice scheme gets a shake-up

Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett has announced reforms to apprenticeship schemes.

The move follows revelations that less than one-third of Modern Apprentices leave the scheme with an NVQ Level 3 qualification or higher.

In an effort to clarify the relationships between the various elements of the system, National Traineeships will become Foundation Modern Apprenticeships (FMAs) and will lead to Advanced Modern Apprenticeships (AMAs). Advanced GNVQs are to be renamed Vocational A-levels.

Changes to the vocational learning programmes include a specified period of off-the-job learning in college or with a training provider, improvements to the knowledge and understanding requirements in the apprenticeship programmes, a specified minimum learning period – two years for AMAs – and tighter entry requirements.

Blunkett also announced he was considering setting up a work-based learning standards fund to ensure that standards are developed in the same way as in further education.

Still time to enter award

Training and development managers have four weeks to submit their entries for the TD2000 Award to find the UK’s top training team.

Co-organisers Training and The Industrial Society are looking to find the training team which is best integrated into the organisation, has top-table influence and can demonstrate a strong and effective focus on improving performance. The award is sponsored by Raytheon Training.

Training show launches into cyberspace

The Training Solutions and IT Training Shows which take place annually in July at the NEC in Birmingham will also be open for business on-line this year.

Organisers Brintex will run both exhibitions on the Internet before and during the live event, allowing "e-ttendees" to explore 3D exhibition halls and stands from their home or office over the Internet.

They believe this will be the world’s first commercial interactive exhibition in cyberspace. The technology is being provided by

Brintex managing director Malcolm Taylor said, "Time-poor customers will have access to a show and products they wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to view." The scheme will also make the exhibition more accessible to overseas visitors.

To gain access to the online exhibition, register for the Training Solutions Show at

Loans to beat skills shortages

The Government has unveiled plans for a new system of national, industry-based portable loans aimed at beating skills shortages.

The scheme would be transferable between employers if the employee changed jobs. It would require employers in different industries to work together for their mutual benefit while stimulating the expansion of training.

The NTOs would be charged with developing and implementing the system. NTO National Council Andy Powell said, "I believe the concept offers a real opportunity for stimulating investment in training within each industry."

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