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Apprenticeships: Frameworks vs Standards

Apprenticeships: Frameworks vs Standards

As part of the government's Apprenticeships (in England): vision for 2020, apprenticeship frameworks will be replaced by employer-led apprenticeship standards to improve the quality of learning apprentices receive. How is this happening? What are the main differences between frameworks and standards? And can employers still use frameworks to train apprentices?

Apprenticeship Frameworks

  • Developed by sector bodies to assess apprenticeships
  • Each framework contains pathways which set out different roles
  • Include competency-based and technical qualifications
  • c.120 apprenticeship frameworks still active

The problems with frameworks

  • Qualification-led, not occupation-focused, so further training may be required
  • Not always linked to professional registration requirements
  • Ongoing assessment - no end assessment to prove the apprentice is job-ready

Apprenticeship Standards

  • Developed by employers known an 'trailblazers'
  • Contain all the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to be job-ready
  • Takes as long as needed for an apprentice to be competent (minimum 12 months)
  • c.244 standards approved for delivery

The benefits of standards

  • Occupation-focused, not qualification-led
  • Linked to professional registration
  • End point assessment to prove apprentices can carry out all aspects of their role 
    by an independent registered apprentice assessment organisation (RAAO)


How are standards replacing frameworks?

New standards are being designed and developed by employer groups known as ‘trailblazers’, in order to ensure apprentices have the right skills for their roles in the workplace, meet industry and employer needs, and improve the quality of apprenticeships as a whole.

The Institute for Apprenticeships is working with employers to create and develop these new apprenticeship standards.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency expects that employers and providers will have completed the transition to standards by 2020, so all frameworks will be withdrawn to new apprenticeship starts at this point. They will not be withdrawing further frameworks until this time. Learn more.

Can I still spend the Apprenticeship Levy or co-investment on a framework?

Yes. For an employer to receive co-investment or use their Apprenticeship Levy funds, they would need to offer an apprentice an approved framework or standard with a registered training provider. However, with the aim for all frameworks to be removed by 2020, it may be advisable to choose an apprenticeship standard instead.

What if there is no standard created for the apprenticeship I need?

Speak to a training provider from the RoATP in your industry or who are offering similar apprenticeships to discuss your options. They will have up-to-date knowledge on which frameworks or standards would be best for your apprentice, and whether they will be offering new standards in a time-frame that suits you.

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Highlights include:

  • Essential information on the government’s apprenticeship reform 
  • A clear explanation of government funding – for both levy- and non-levy-payers
  • How to formulate a winning apprenticeships strategy 
  • Guidance on finding the right training for your apprentices

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Last updated: 18 Jun 2018

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