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MP Futures digging in and driving forward new extractives apprenticeships

First published in the April 2017 issue of Quarry Management

In September 2014 the UK Government began the process of reforming apprenticeships in England. MP Futures, the Standard Setting Organisation of the Mineral Products Qualifications Council (MPQC), moved quickly to ensure that the extractives sector was one of the early participants in this process, successfully securing a position in Phase 3 of the roll-out.

Many employers in the sector welcomed this opportunity for reform with open arms and quickly began working with MP Futures to develop new industry relevant apprenticeships. Anthony Elgey, general manager of MP Futures, said: ‘The existing framework was outdated and we were unable to revise it due to the drive towards new apprenticeship standards, so this was a fantastic opportunity for us to begin improving the quality of our apprenticeships.’

The process began in January 2015 with a number of industry employers, including Hanson and Breedon Group, meeting to discuss the apprenticeships they wished to develop. Since then both MP Futures and employers have battled hard against continual apprenticeship policy changes to successfully develop a number of apprenticeships, such as:

  • Mobile and Static Plant Operations
  • Weighbridge Operations
  • Mineral and Construction Product Sampling and Testing Operations (Lab Tech)
  • Drilling and Blasting Operations
  • Plant and Equipment Maintenance, mechanic and technician (in collaboration with employers in the construction sector)
  • Specialist Rescue Operations

Nicola Wood, learning and development manager at Breedon Group, said: ‘Employers from our industry have been at the heart of developing these new apprenticeships and this has been absolutely vital in ensuring that we create apprenticeships that are fit for purpose and suit the needs of employers.’

Karen Wright, learning and development manager at Hanson UK, added: ‘Employers of all sizes have come together to identify and develop industry-specific apprenticeship standards which we believe will allow us to attract and develop new talent into the industry at every level.’

From 6 April 2017, employers whose payroll bill is more than £3 million will be required to pay a 0.5% Apprenticeship Levy. Employers can then use levy monies to pay for apprenticeship training with approved training providers. Employers who do not pay the levy can also obtain funding for apprenticeship training through a two-thirds model – the employer paying one third of the cost of the training. Employers with less than 50 employees may be able to claim 100% funding. Employers will be able to use levy monies to fund all of the new apprenticeships listed above, as well as the existing range of ‘old’ apprenticeships until they are replaced with a reformed version.

Over the last few years MP Futures have worked hard to keep employers up to date on not only the progress of the new apprenticeships, but also apprenticeship policy changes and levy updates. Most recently, MP Futures have been working with Tarmac to produce an apprenticeship map that lists all available apprenticeship frameworks and standards via job function. Employers wishing to employ an apprentice are now able to use this map to find suitable apprenticeships. Industry employees are encouraged to sign up to apprenticeship news updates and access the map via the MP Futures website: www.mpfutures.co.uk

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