The UK's largest producer of 100 per cent recycled newsprint, UPM Shotton has joined a select group of companies to lead the design of new apprenticeship schemes.These companies, who took on more than 13,000 apprenticeship starts in 2011 to 2012, are known as Trailblazers.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: "I am very pleased that UPM Shotton has chosen to be at the forefront of our Apprenticeship reforms. This is great opportunity to be a Trailblazer, building on existing successes to lay the foundations for rigorous and easily understood apprenticeships that will help Britain compete in the global race.

"Our aim is that the new Apprenticeships will focus squarely on rigorous training for learners and simplicity of use for large and small employers, who will be in the driving seat of Apprenticeships in future. This will mean that our Apprenticeship system will respond better to the needs of the modern economy."

UPM Shotton will be part of the Electrotechnical Group. Samantha Hubbard who will represent UPM to develop a new standard for Electrical Apprenticeships for England said: "We are delighted that UPM Shotton's award-winning apprenticeship schemes have been recognised as delivering high performing individuals. The whole mill team is looking forward to contributing to the next generation of schemes."

The reformed apprenticeships will be:

– Employer-led and designed so they respond to the needs of industry, meaning each apprentice has the skills required by the sector;

– Focused on quality so the apprentice has to demonstrate their ability through rigorous assessment at the end of their apprenticeship;

– Graded on completion – pass, merit, or distinction – to mark the level of achievement.

Waste paper for recycling by Wutsje - Wikimedia Commons - CC-BY-SA-3.0

Waste paper for recycling by Wutsje (Wikimedia Commons – CC-BY-SA-3.0)

The eight Trailblazers will represent a broad spectrum of businesses from a range of different sectors; aerospace, automotive, digital industries, electro-technical, energy, financial services, food and drink, and life and industrial sciences. Their participation will mean that apprenticeships are firmly driven by those who deliver and use them.

Being involved in the Trailblazers will give employers and professional bodies the opportunity to develop the new apprenticeship standards for occupations in their sector. These will become the industry standard for any apprenticeship in that occupation.

New apprentices can expect to take part in reformed apprenticeships as early as the end of 2014.

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