Entrepreneur Apprenticeship Update

Entrepreneur Apprenticeship – An update

We’re sorry to announce that the development of our Entrepreneur Apprenticeship has been stopped by the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA).

We know that this will come as a disappointment to our supporters, partners and social entrepreneurs who have welcomed the idea of an entrepreneur apprenticeship from the beginning. We share this sense of frustration and we have done everything we could to make the Entrepreneur Apprenticeship a reality.

The story so far

We started developing the apprenticeship for entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs in 2014. The apprenticeship standard was approved in 2016 by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and we then started work on the assessment plan.

We submitted our first draft assessment plan in January 2017, but this was rejected in March. We were then working to produce an acceptable plan for resubmission but shifting goalposts made this challenging. This delay meant that responsibility for approving our Assessment Plan and therefore approving our apprenticeship for delivery moved from BIS to Department for Education and then to the IfA. Throughout this period we were working on revising the assessment plan and actively liaising with the relevant department and then with the IfA.

The reasons for the IfA’s decision

The IfA operates according to a set of principles and rules as set down in the Act of Parliament that created it. All decisions on apprenticeships are made by the Board or individual ‘Route Panels’, the members of which are from the world of business.

The IfA has stressed to us that their decisions are constrained by the rules in the Act of Parliament. In practice, this means a much narrower view of what is permissible, and increased focus on certain indicators. Of particular relevance to the Entrepreneur Apprenticeship were the following:

Employment during and beyond the apprenticeship – whereas we were given approval to start developing the apprenticeship on the basis that apprentices would be employed during the apprenticeship, this has since changed. There is now a strong expectation that most apprentices will go on to work for the company that trained them and crucially that apprenticeship programmes not intended to lead to paid employment beyond the apprenticeship are out of scope.

Genuine demand in the job market – our rationale for the apprenticeship was that there is demand from employers for people with entrepreneurial skills and behaviours, demand from people (and young people in particular) to become entrepreneurs or social entrepreneurs, and the wider economic value that entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs would create. However, the IfA is now interpreting evidence of ‘genuine demand’ as the existence of current job adverts for the occupation in question. Clearly, this doesn’t exist for entrepreneurs, beyond a few ‘entrepreneur in residence’ and ‘intrapreneur’ roles, which may use other job titles in any case.

They were also of the view that our standard was more a “start your own business” apprenticeship than an entrepreneur apprenticeship and therefore overlapped with existing business and management apprenticeships.

Based on these reasons they have decided to stop the development of our apprenticeship, and it has been removed from the list of apprenticeships in development.

Entrepreneurial skills are essential for the economy

We started working on an apprenticeship for entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs because we have seen first-hand that an increasing amount of people are looking to start up their own venture. Our economy is shifting away from career-long employment with large companies and towards multiple, individually tailored careers that stress innovation and adaptability. Nearly half of people aged 18-30 want to start their own business.

Moreover, there’s a growing appetite among young people to make a positive impact on the world; 72% of prospective start-ups are influenced by social causes, while 27% would choose to form a social enterprise.

Last week saw the publication of the Government’s new Industrial Strategy, which identified productivity and skills as among the most significant challenges facing the UK economy. It also praised entrepreneurs for making a very significant contribution to our country through taxes, employing people and through the value of the goods and services they provide.

The apprenticeship for entrepreneurs is a missed opportunity to contribute to tackling these challenges as it had the potential to make a systemic change and shape the entrepreneurial landscape within the UK, enabling thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs to launch innovative ventures. It could have also enabled organisations across a wide range of industries to shape their corporate culture towards a more entrepreneurial approach.

This is a sad outcome after all the hard work done by members of the Trailblazer group and we would like to thank all our partners and supporters for their effort, energy and passion they have contributed along the way.

In particular, we would like to thank Alberto Masetti-Zannini and David Pollard, for their commitment and hard work in chairing the group at different points in the process.

We will continue our commitment to supporting social entrepreneurs to start up and scale up. We remain convinced that entrepreneurial skills are vital to building a vibrant, sustainable and inclusive economy and society.


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