Trailblazer Apprenticeships and the Apprenticeship Levy

What is a Trailblazer?

  • A Trailblazer is made up of a group of employers who work together to design new apprenticeship standards for occupations within their sectors.
  • Employers are now at the forefront of the development of Apprenticeships and learning; creating people with workplace skills that are relevant to business and industry.
  • This is the result of a Government reform to Apprenticeships outlined in The Future of Apprenticeships in England: Implementation Plan which is the Government's response to the Richard Review. The reform gives employers the responsibility for standards and assessment.

Who is involved in Trailblazers?

  • Employers lead on Trailblazers to ensure the standards they develop are suitable for large and small organisations within their sector. Each Trailblazer group should include a wide range of employers (at least 10) committed to being involved in the development of the apprenticeship standard. Each Trailblazer group is supported by a rep from Business Innovation and Skills.
  • Professional bodies are involved to help ensure routes to professional registration in occupations where these are available and can be involved in the development of the standard.
  • Training providers are involved so they can contribute ideas from a delivery perspective and also to ensure they are ready to deliver the new apprenticeship standards.
  • Awarding or assessment organisations are involved to share their experience of assessment. This is useful for Trailblazers when they are drafting their assessment plans.
  • SSCs are involved in some Trailblazers, and many have been assisting with the facilitation of Trailblazer meetings.

How can I get involved in a Trailblazer?

What will the new standards look like?

  • The new apprenticeship standards will be short (one/two pages) and describe the level of knowledge, skill, and behaviors required to do a particular role well, ie describing full competence for the role. They should be stretching, and require at least 12 months of training to meet the standard. They will include assessment criteria and relevant qualifications.
  • All new standards have to relate to a specific role or occupation, and provide a pathway to a career within the sector.
  • Three have been developed so far, they are:
    • LGV Driver, the standard can be found here,
    • Warehouse Operative, the standard can be found here
    • Traffic Operator, the standard can be found here
  • Two higher level apprenticeship and a degree level apprenticeship that are sector specific are in development, a list of all Trailblazer Standards can be found here
  • Trailblazer Apprenticeships are available in many subject areas that are relevant to the Road Haulage Sector, such as Business Administration, Customer Services, Accounts, Heavy Vehicle Mechanics and IT.

How do Trailblazers work?

  • Employers identify the need for a new standard that relates to a role or occupation and will bring together all those who want to be involved. The process for developing the occupational standard and assessment plan can be found in Guidance for Trailblazers
  • Trailblazer Apprenticeships are in essence a partnership with a training provider, if you are a non-levy paying employer then you should use this link to find a training provider in your local area or select a national training provider

       Does taking part involve a big time and resource commitment?

  • It can do. Employers taking part in the Trailblazer will be required to attend meetings and develop the standard and assessment plan for an occupation. While a significant commitment is needed from employers, help can be provided by the Trailblazer relationship manager.
  • If you are only interested in employing an apprentice rather than being involved in the trailblazer group then just follow the instructions in this document.

What do the changes mean for existing Apprenticeship frameworks?

  • Existing frameworks continue to be valid and will be able to be used by new apprentices until new replacement standards have been signed off and approved for delivery. However, all new apprenticeship standards need to be developed through the employer-led Trailblazer model. By 2018–19 this model will be standard across all sectors and will progressively replace the existing frameworks.

What are the requirements for English and Maths within new Apprenticeships?

  • It is the government’s ambition that by 2020 adults aged 19 and over, and apprentices of all ages studying English and math’s, will be working towards the achievement of the new GCSEs, taking stepping-stone qualifications where necessary.
  • Functional Skills will continue to be a part of the apprenticeship completion requirements.
  • The new standards will include details of the English and Maths requirements, either at the minimum level set by government, or above the minimum level if required by the Trailblazer.

How do I find a Training Provider?

  • Levy payers should use their ESFA Digital Account to select training providers and End Point Assessors.
  • Non-Levy payers should use this link or use a local provider already known. Not all training providers are registered to provide apprenticeships if unsure please contact Colin Snape,

How are the new apprenticeships funded?

  • The three new standards have been allocated the following funding bands:
    • Driver - £5000
    • Warehouse Operative - £3000
    • Traffic Operator - £3000
  • There are three ways of apprenticeships being funded as follows:
    • Employers with less than 50 employees will have the full amount above to use for apprenticeship training only.
    • Employers with 51 employees but do not have a payroll of £3 million will have 90% of the funds to use on apprenticeship training and will be required to co-invest £500
    • Employers with a payroll of £3 million and above will have the full amount to use for apprenticeship training only, when they have used their levy pot they fall into the same funding band as non-levy payers and will have 90% funded.

What is the Apprenticeship Levy?

The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced on 06 April 2017, if you’re an employer with a pay bill over £3 million each year, you must pay the apprenticeship levy from 6 April 2017. Read guidance on how to pay the apprenticeship levy.

You will report and pay your levy to HMRC through the PAYE process.

The levy will not affect the way you fund training for apprentices who started an apprenticeship programme before 1 May 2017. You’ll need to carry on funding training for these apprentices under the terms and conditions that were in place at the time the apprenticeship started.

Register to use the service

If you are a levy-paying employer, you can now create an account on the apprenticeship service to:

  • Receive levy funds for you to spend on apprenticeship
  • Manage apprentices
  • Pay your training provider
  • Stop or pause payments to your training provider

For further Information

Please contact