If you’re interested in pursuing an apprenticeship in the construction industry, you may have heard of trailblazer apprenticeships. An innovative new approach to learning and earning, trailblazers offer all the benefits that you can expect from apprenticeships, as well as greater expert input, a streamlined system from start to finish and much more.

What are trailblazer apprenticeships?

The trailblazer apprenticeship programme was launched in England in 2013, and will gradually replace the existing apprenticeship system over the coming years.

It sets new skill and assessment standards for apprenticeships to ensure they maintain their standing as high quality and relevant vocational qualifications. Within construction, apprenticeships are viewed as an excellent vocational route to employment, offering plenty of on-the-job experience while providing academic learning, and the trailblazer programme will build upon this reputation.

Crucially, trailblazer standards are designed by employers in that particular field, ensuring the skills and experience required most is reflected in apprenticeships. Being employer-led will mean the focus is on the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to ensure everything learned by the apprentice will benefit the learner, employer, construction industry and ultimately the economy as a whole.

The knowledge, skills and behaviours that apprentices will learn over the course of their apprenticeship is set out in something called a standard (known as a framework in traditional apprenticeships).

You can take a look at an example standard here.

How are trailblazer apprenticeships different to existing apprenticeships?

The new standards will be short (one or two pages) and set out what’s needed to thrive in a specific job role. They will include assessment criteria and qualifications designed to stretch apprentices over at least 12 months of training.

Unlike the ‘general’ frameworks of current apprenticeships, every new standard has to relate to a specific job role or occupation and provide a clear pathway to a career.

How are trailblazer apprenticeships assessed?

The assessment of trailblazer apprenticeships has been simplified. Similarly to the traditional system, apprentices will be assessed throughout the duration of their apprenticeships; however, trailblazers also introduce a definitive end of programme assessment designed to provide a Distinction, Merit, Pass or Fail grade. This will bring apprenticeships in line with other forms of learning assessment, such as NVQs.

This is called an end-point assessment, which assesses you against the skills, knowledge and behaviours set out in the apprenticeship standard. The end-point assessment is usually carried out at your college or training provider. The format of this will depend on which apprenticeship you’re taking, but it could involve:

  • A practical assessment
  • An interview
  • A project
  • Written and/or multiple-choice tests
  • A presentation.

How are trailblazer apprenticeships developed?

As previously mentioned, trailblazers are developed by employers – they form a trailblazer development group which consists of at least 10 employers, with 2 small employers (fewer than 50 employees).

The group’s role is to develop the standard which set out what’s required for the occupation and the end point assessment, the measurement of the competencies for the occupation, and ensure the apprentice is ‘job-ready’ at the end of the apprenticeship.

Trailblazer apprenticeships – FAQs

It can be easy to get bogged down in the details when discussing apprenticeships, so let’s review some quick facts about trailblazer apprenticeships:

  • Available in England only
  • Your time will roughly be split 80% in a work environment, 20% in a classroom setting
  • You get paid – read more here
  • Lasts at least 12 months, but can take up to 30
  • You will be assessed on behaviours, as well as skills and knowledge
  • Eventually all apprenticeships will be trailblazers.

Read more about apprenticeships here.

Construction trailblazer apprenticeships

There are many existing trailblazer apprenticeship opportunities in the construction industry, with plenty of others in development. Here’s some examples:

  • Hire Controller (Plant, Tools and Equipment)
  • Construction Equipment Maintenance Engineering
  • Stonemasonry
  • Bricklaying
  • Construction Plant Operative
  • Demolition Operative
  • Property Maintenance
  • Roofing

This is just a small selection of the exciting opportunities currently available – you can find the full list here.  

Why should I take a trailblazer apprenticeship?

Do you like the idea of learning a valuable skill which will lead to a well-paid job? How about a combination of practical and classroom-based learning? What about learning important life skills while mixing with people from all walks of life? How about all of that, and not only do you not rack up a penny of debt, but you get paid?!

Well that’s what an apprenticeship is, and the new trailblazers have all of that as well as a simpler assessment system, expert input into the content of your learning which will be valued by employers, and an increasingly wider choice of subject areas. What’s not to like?

Need more information? Head on over to our apprenticeships section.

Convinced? Click here to begin your exciting apprenticeship journey.