Seeking solutions: how can a Design Thinking approach leverage improved apprenticeship design and delivery?: Report from the Apprenticeships Working Group

Anne Haig Smith, Mara Simmons


Apprenticeships are a key government response to perceived skills shortages within England and are currently challenged by issues of quality, scope, scalability and the consequences, intended and unintended, of the shift from frameworks to standards (Hogarth, et al 2012). This paper reports on a pair of themed sessions held to Reimagine Futher Education in which the authors, utilising a Design Thinking approach (Calgren, et al, 2016; Plattner, 2010), worked with a group of apprenticeship professionals from across England to challenge, model, create and debate alternative approaches to apprenticeship provision which put the learning experience of the apprentice centre stage. By implementing a Design Thinking approach to create an ideal apprenticeship, participants identified a number of themes which challenge current priorities in apprenticeship design and delivery. Through this iterative design process, seven radical ideas emerged which the group felt would significantly and positively impact on an apprentice’s learning experience. This paper argues that Design Thinking is a useful and transferable tool for colleges and programme providers to use to address complicated challenges.

Keywords: apprenticeships, Design Thinking, training providers, levy, apprentice, employers.

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