A new government-backed craft apprenticeship initiative could help reverse falling participation in craft-related design and technology.

Photo of a welder

Alisha Newton (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Participation in craft-related design and technology GCSEs over the five academic years to 2010/1 fell by 19% to 29,000 learners, a study of the provision of craft courses and levels of take-up has revealed. The Crafts Council report, Studying Craft: trends in craft education and training, also shows a decline in participation in Further Education, and low numbers of formal apprenticeships. In an attempt to boost the sector, the Government has announced a new ‘Craft Apprenticeship Trailblazer’, comprising a group of 33 individual makers, craft businesses and associations, including the Crafts Council, tasked with developing a world-class apprenticeship standard for craft. Announced during National Apprenticeship Week as part of the Government’s reform programme, the Trailblazer initiative is an attempt to reform apprenticeships to be more rigorous and responsive to the needs of employers. It aims to give craft sector employers the chance to “design an apprenticeship as they want it, which works for their business and is recognised by Government”. The apprenticeship standard and assessment will be designed to suit the small and micro-businesses that make up the majority of firms in the sector. The group aims to make it available for use from early 2015.

Crafts Council Executive Director Rosy Greenlees said: “Education, learning and talent development is a major priority of the Crafts Council so the creation of a vital new route into craft employment and training is very welcome. The breadth of expertise and knowledge of all the partners will be crucial to achieving a well-rounded sustainable standard which will benefit apprentices and businesses and ultimately strengthen the British craft sector.”