Prime Minister David Cameron has today confirmed radical plans to increase the number of quality trailblazer apprenticeships across the country – forming part of the government’s pledge to support 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 – placing ownership of the skills and knowledge required to perform key roles within industry firmly in the hands of the employers.

In order to drive up the quality of apprenticeships, 59 new standards developed by Trailblazer employer groups have been approved today, which outline the skills apprentices in these roles are expected to have to meet the needs of employers.

One of the industry standards that has been granted approval is one of the three being developed by the Supply Chain Trailblazer group.

The group, which includes representatives from the Ministry of Defence, trade association BAR, Nagel Langdons, employers such as DHL, John Lewis and Sainsbury’s, and awarding organisation NCFE, submitted three standards to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) earlier this year.

The group has welcomed the approval of the Supply Chain Operator Level 2 Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standard, but has expressed disappointment at the government’s decision not to approve the Supply Chain Specialist Large Goods Vehicle Driver (LGV) Level 2 Trailblazer Apprenticeship standard on this occasion. The third standard – Warehousing Operative – is also under review after feedback was given by BIS in March, and will be resubmitted to the panel later this year.

Following this announcement, the next stage will involve the Supply Chain Trailblazer group working with training providers to develop assessment and delivery plans for the approved standard, and also preparing to re-submit the LGV and Warehousing standards.

Colin Snape, HR Manager at Nagel Langdons and former chair of the Supply Chain Trailblazer group, commented: “The industry has long been in need of a suitable apprenticeship that ensures young people joining us have a full understanding of the supply chain – in particular logistics and how it impacts on everything we do.

“This apprenticeship will make sure that future transport planners, import/export clerks and removals operators fully understand their role and quickly become an important link in the team. We hope the Level 2 apprenticeship will lead to higher level apprenticeships, thus ensuring a career path with continued learning at its heart.”

David Grailey, Chief Executive of NCFE – the group’s chosen awarding organisation partner – said: “While it is great news that one of the standards has been approved, it’s disappointing that the LGV standard has not – LGV drivers are in high demand across the industry, and this would have been a significant step towards filling the many vacancies.

“We’ll continue to work with the Supply Chain Trailblazer group to shape the future of apprenticeships, ensuring programmes are tailored to industry needs and offer real opportunities to learners. In particular, we’ll be working to create standardisation and rigour in the assessment of Supply Chain Apprenticeships. This is something that is a cause for concern across the delivery of the Trailblazer apprenticeships, with varying degrees of quality in assessment, and it’s crucial that apprenticeships in this industry are of sufficient quality to provide both apprentices and employers with the skills they require.”

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “Businesses are better placed than anyone to train the next generation of workers and will help us deliver 3 million high quality apprenticeships by 2020. By designing apprenticeships, groups like the Supply Chain Trailblazer are ensuring that young talented people develop the skills needed to progress up the career ladder and help drive businesses forward.”