Apprenticeships: the doorway to our sector

Apprenticeships: the doorway to our sector - image

Apprenticeships: the doorway to our sector

Ross Moloney, CEO of The Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA), sees apprenticeships as the entry point for new talent into the sector.

LEEA sees its function in two parts: we want to support our members to reach excellence, but we also must work on behalf of our members to raise their profile with end user markets such as: aeronautical, maritime, construction, logistics, entertainment, military, engineering and manufacturing. These are, of course, a key part of any trade association’s activities.

Crucially, however, by raising the profile of lifting engineers we can address one of the biggest challenges we face: recruiting new talent into the sector.

But generating interest is one thing, how do we then create a route into the industry for those we have attracted?

This is where our work on apprenticeships fits in. In the last bulletin we reported how a LEEA team met with the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA) to begin the process of developing an apprenticeship standard for the lifting equipment industry. To fill a gap in the apprenticeship scheme for the occupation of ‘Lifting Equipment Examiner’, LEEA is inviting its members to come together to form the necessary ‘trailblazer’ group, which will meet to work out what the sector actually needs from its future workforce.

The idea behind Trailblazers is to deliver apprenticeships that meet the needs of employers rather than employers having to fit in around a prescribed framework. Employers, working together in groups, will drive the creation of our sector’s apprenticeship frameworks. Any employer in this group can influence the development of the standard and the way it is assessed – for example, by project work or observation.

Employer driven frameworks are the way ahead. This will mean getting groups of employers together. However, we believe that the flexibility offered by the new frameworks will encourage buy-in from a broad range of employers.

By getting involved in developing the standards for occupations in our sector, members will have the opportunity to define the skills, knowledge and behaviours that they require in their future workforce. This, in turn, will mean that apprenticeships can more directly support businesses to grow and prosper.

A key feature of the Trailblazers is rigorous assessment, which ensures that the apprentice is ready to progress at the end of the training.

The trailblazer puts businesses in control of apprenticeship training, and the quality and relevance of such training will be raised.

Interested members must be committed to take on apprentices in their own businesses and willing to contribute to the drafting of an occupation proposal, which will in the future form an apprenticeship standard. LEEA will facilitate the trailblazer group and be the conduit for communication with the IFA. At this stage, the apprenticeship trailblazer group will be limited to LEEA members in England, although other UK Government bodies will also be approached to discuss similar standards for apprenticeships.

An apprenticeship is a mark of competence, which tries to broaden your wider skills. An apprenticeship should be a pathway for learning. In this way, an apprenticeship can offer real value and, therefore, will be easier to fill.

The latest figures in the Engineering UK 2018 report record a 7% increase in apprenticeship starts but the report goes on to say, “more needs to be done to raise awareness and understanding of apprenticeships among young people.” And given that the report found that only 8% or apprenticeships starts (England only) are female, more effort must be directed at increasing this figure.

Providing a recognised occupation and career progression pathway will encourage new recruits and upskill existing personnel, developing the knowledge, skills and professional behaviours. It’s all part of developing a well-trained, sustainable lifting equipment workforce for the future.

For further information contact LEEA: or visit

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