1. Background context- the current creative and design route landscape

The impact of the creative industries

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) reports that in 2018 the creative industries contributed £111.7bn in Gross Value Added (GVA), which is nearly 6% of the economy. The growth of the industries between 2017-18 was 7.4%, which was more than five times the growth rate of the UK economy. 

DCMS also estimate that creative industries employed over 2 million people between 2019-2020, which is more than 6 % of all employment in the UK that year.  

The sectors in the creative and design route also have a huge impact on the everyday life of people. For example:  

  •  Historic England reports that in 2018, the list of the top ten most visited paid attractions in England included six heritage sites.  
  • British museums and theatres also have a strong draw on tourists, with Museums like the Tate Modern being the 5th most visited in the world in 2018, according to data published by the Art Newspaper.  
  • The UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre estimated that  UK theatres attracted 34 million visitors the same year generating over £1,2 billion. 
  • According to the British Film Institute (BFI) there are over 5 billion film viewings per year.  They also found that over 85% of people had seen a film recently that provoked them to do something.
  • The UK gaming industry has created some of the world’s best-selling and well-known video games, such as the Grand Theft Auto series and the Lego games series.
  • The craft market has grown significantly over the last 15 years. According to the Crafts Council the number of people buying craft in England increased from 6.9 million in 2006 to 31.6 million in 2020. With the total value of craft sales estimated at £3 billion in 2019.6  

There is no doubt that the creative sector is a significant and high-profile sector.  

The shape of the route  

The creative industry sector is large and diverse, covering many occupations. Many businesses are small, and work tends to be centred around London and the Southeast. Many of the occupations have traditionally lacked formal entry routes and apprenticeships have enabled access to these occupations for a wider range of people. The introduction of T Levels in Creative and Design will also offer entry points into the sector.  

The creative industry sector continues to push boundaries and move forward, with many employers leading the way with new technology and sustainable practices, as well as advocating for a more diverse workforce.  

Range of occupations 

The occupations in the route range from highly specialised craft occupations, such as silversmith and clockmaker, to occupations that shape our popular culture, such as journalist, fashion studio assistant and animator. The route also covers the occupations that make us world leaders in highly competitive global industries, such as creative industries production manager and assistant technical director (visual effects), and those occupations that are dedicated to protecting and sharing our cultural legacy, such as cultural heritage conservator and archaeological specialist. 

Specialised craft occupations

The Heritage Crafts Association’s list of endangered crafts includes several occupations in the route, e.g., organ builder and blacksmith. These traditional skills are often learnt through practice on the job, which make them suited for apprenticeships. By creating a national entry route to these occupations, apprenticeships can play an important role in protecting traditional skills. However, due to the nature of the work and size of the market, the cohorts tend to be small which can make it difficult to deliver training.   

The Institute continues to support employers in developing apprenticeships and T Levels for craft occupations to support a talent pipeline for specialist skills. We are also working with groups in the industry to identify additional heritage craft occupations that would benefit from technical education provision.  

Range of employers

Most of the creative industry consists of small and micro businesses. 90% of creative businesses have no more than five employees, and 80% have no more than two. In contrast, the route also includes some of the country’s largest companies, like the BBC, Newsquest and Amazon. 

The recently launched flexible apprenticeship fund will help fund new apprenticeship agencies that will allow apprentices to work with multiple employers, on different projects. This will help learners get the skills needed in the creative sectors where jobs are predominantly project based and short-term. 

Geographical spread

Creative sector jobs and businesses are concentrated around London and the South East, as well as other cities, with certain sectors being particularly London centric, e.g., film, TV, radio and photography.  

In the Creative Industries Industrial Strategy the Government has committed to encourage a more national spread of creative jobs and businesses. They are investing in infrastructure nationally to allow companies to work digitally across the country. For example, in March 2021 the plan for the first phase of Project Gigabit, a £5 billion infrastructure project, was published. The aim is to ensure that all of UK has fast broadband coverage. 

Project Gigabit will accelerate our recovery from covid, fire up high growth sectors like tech and the creative industries and level up the country, spreading wealth and creating jobs the breadth of Britain.” 

Government has also invested £70 million in grants through the BFI to support work across the UK, with 65% being earmarked for projects outside of London.9 

Industry diversity

Creative and cultural skills reported that in 2018 around 47% of England’s creative workforce were female. 13% of the creative workforce were disabled and 13% identified as BAME. Many creative sector employers are working to improve diversity in the sector, in particular ethnic and socio-economic diversity.   

One example is the advertising company, Ogilvy, who are using apprenticeships to champion diversity in the sector. The apprenticeship scheme is open to all, but Ogilvy aims for at least 50% of the cohort to be from underrepresented backgrounds and have worked closely with organisation including Uptree and Brixton Finishing School to  ensure the programme is shared widely within underrepresented communities.10 

Another example is Channel 4 who launched 4Skills last year, a new training and development programme which focuses on recruiting and developing talent from the Nations and Regions. Sinead Rocks, Channel 4’s Managing Director, Nations and Regions, explains:  

“4Skills will transform how Channel 4 delivers its training and development and the type of people who come into the broadcast industry. 

“We have a greater presence in the Nations and Regions than ever before which enables us to reach out to the communities where we live and work. 

“4Skills will enable us to explore previously untapped talent pools and attract people from diverse backgrounds, people who might never have considered a career in broadcasting.” 

A new cohort of apprentices will join Channel 4 on 27 September 2021. 

Lack of formal entry routes

Routes for entry and progression are often unclear and not always supported by technical education pathways.  Entry-level roles are often precarious and poorly paid, making them difficult to access for those from less privileged backgrounds.

As the entry routes have been limited, many employers are still not familiar with the new apprenticeship training, so some sectors are facing a cultural shift when it comes to adopting apprenticeships. Whilst the numbers of apprentices in the creative and design route are increasing year by year, there is still room for growth in order to support entry to the creative industry. In addition to growing numbers of apprentices, the new T Levels, which will be delivered in classrooms from September 2023, will add further entry routes into the creative sector and support growth. 

Importance of technology

The creative industries are recognised as cutting-edge when it comes to technology. The digital era represents an enormously exciting opportunity for a further wave of growth and innovation, but the creative industries will need to work hard to harness the value of this.  

Creative Industries Federation reported in 2018 that, when asked about growth, businesses were five times more likely to say that focusing on innovation and research & development had led to increased turnover. Businesses were also three times more likely to say that adopting new technology had led to an increase in turnover.

The field of archaeology for example, is changing through the use of new technological tools. Historic England’s Aerial Investigation and Mapping team are using technology to find, map and monitor landmarks and sites. The team uses planes, drones and photography in their work and have been able to adapt their practices following the COVID-19 restrictions to allow work to continue. Historic England are continuing to investigate the potential of new technology, and through the Government’s'Space for Smarter Government Programme', which aims to increase the public sector’s use of space technology, they are exploring how they could use satellite imagery to support their work in the future.

The Crafts Council confirms that the craft sector has also seen a boost through the use of technology in the last twenty years. Digital selling platforms such as Etsy and others have given sellers new entry routes into the market. Online craft purchases grew from 5% to 33% between 2006 and 2020.


Addressing climate change and safeguarding environmental sustainability are key priorities in the Arts Council’s Ten-Year Strategy16, reflecting their importance for the sector. There has been an increased focus on environmental sustainability and many employers are adopting sustainable work practices.  

An example of where sustainability is central to the occupation is bespoke tailoring. Tailors create high-quality pieces of garments made using natural materials, many of which are sourced locally and ethically. In addition, the garments are finished mostly by hand and designed to last, reducing the carbon footprint of each piece. As the chair of the Bespoke Tailor and Cutter trailblazer, Su Thomas, explains: 

“Savile Row’s handmade processes use some of the finest natural fabrics and craftspeople trained for many years, inspiring a new generation of environmentally conscious dressers to invest in the craft.  The bespoke garment making process is one of the most traceable to date from cloth sourcing to hand sewn finishing touches. Sustainability is key to bespoke companies – this encompasses their support for British Textile companies, the longevity of the end product and the ability to authenticate the creation of a garment to a customer from start to completion.” 

Another example is Mulberry, member of the leather craftsperson trailblazer, who are committed to building a sustainable legacy. Mulberry Green is the name given to Mulberry’s responsibility commitments, based on the principle of making positive differences to people, the environment, and the communities in which the company works. Both of its UK factories have been carbon neutral since 2019, and they are aiming to achieve net zero emissions globally by 2025.  

They launched the Portobello, a 100% sustainable bag, in 2019. The tote is crafted with leather from a Gold Standard Leather Working Group (LWG) tannery. The Leather Working Group is an international, not-for-profit membership organisation and they are responsible for the world’s largest leather sustainability program.  

Mulberry has set a target of sourcing all leather for its collections from environmentally accredited tanneries by 2022. 


The route review was conducted during the approach to exiting the European Union (Brexit). Whilst Brexit may create domestic opportunities for some businesses, we know that it will also bring fresh challenges for a range of sectors. It is difficult to evaluate the full impact at this point in time. We will continue to monitor and consider the impacts of Brexit with our route panel employers and more widely to do what we can to reflect emerging needs in technical education. 

Impact of COVID-19  

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on employers, freelancers and apprentices in the creative and design route. A number of lockdowns and restrictions across the country in 2020 and 2021 have meant that businesses have had to continue to be flexible and adapt to the latest recommendations. 

Many businesses have both experienced significant loss of revenue and incurred expenditure in making adaptions to their businesses, such as providing PPE for their staff and reducing the number of customers or visitors, to comply with social distancing requirements and to minimise the risk of infection. In recognition of the challenges faced by the industries, Government announced a £ 1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. The fund has supported over 5,000 organisations to date, with the third and final round open for applications between July and September 2021.  

The impact of COVID-19 has also meant that additional flexibilities have been put in place for apprenticeships to ensure high-quality delivery can continue, whilst ensuring the health and wellbeing of everyone involved. The Institute’s full guidance on the flexibilities introduced for apprenticeships can be found on our website. 

Whilst the full impact of COVID-19 on the creative industries is still unclear, employers tell us that the pandemic is likely to have a long-term impact on many of the occupations within the route, reshaping the ways of working and how organisations operate. We have for example seen that the culture and heritage sector are using virtual exhibitions to engage with customers and are exploring how to increase the use of technology in archaeology and conservation. As the Aerial Investigation Team at Historic England explains:  

“Like all other approaches to archaeological research and survey, aerial photography adapts to new circumstances and advances in ideas and techniques, exploring new technology and identifying how it can be applied to our discipline. Old and new complement each other, and the crucial element in all of our work is the person making the decisions on how to collect and interpret data. Covid-19 has offered an unexpected opportunity, in of course unwelcome circumstances, to experiment with different methods of working, and this will help us to develop new ways of presenting stories from the distant past to the present.” 

The Institute is committed to supporting the apprenticeship sector to deal with the significant challenge Covid-19 presents. We are doing everything we can to continue the delivery of high-quality apprenticeships, while putting everyone’s health and wellbeing first. We are also working closely with the DfE, ESFA, Treasury, and the National Apprenticeship Service to ensure a joined-up approach.  

The Institute will continue to work with employers to understand the impact of the pandemic longer term and its effect on the occupations within the route and ensure that apprenticeships and other technical education programmes reflect any changes to the sector. 

You can find out more on our website about how the Institute is supporting the apprenticeship sector to deal with the significant challenge COVID-19 presents. If you are looking for help on a specific apprenticeship, please see our published list of additional flexibilities. 

2. The future of the creative and design route

The review considered the route’s future skills requirements in the sector and how these may impact technical education provision going forward.  

Principles for future approval 

The route panel were asked to develop a set of key principles for the route, identifying core elements that should be included in all creative and design occupational standards, applicable to apprenticeships and T Levels. More information on what is meant by occupational standards is available on our website 

 All trailblazer groups working on standards that were in scope of the review have been asked to consider how they can address/ accommodate these principles within their occupational standards.  

The principles are: 

1. Promoting diversity and inclusion 

The Institute recognises that bringing the best possible talent into creative and design industries is vital to the success of apprenticeships, T Levels and businesses across the industries. To get the best people, the creative and design route should aim to attract a more diverse talent base. This includes ethnic, geographical and socio-economic diversity. 

The Department for Education released demographic data, covering starts on apprenticeships for the 2018/19 academic year. The data is grouped by sector subject area (SSA), with the arts, media and publishing SSA most closely aligned to the creative and design route. The data shows that 18% of apprentices within the arts, media and publishing SSA identified as non-white, which is above the national average for the creative industry, as reported by Creative and cultural skills in 2018 (13%). In comparison, 12% of apprentices across all apprenticeship routes identified as non-white.  

To ensure that the route continues to encourage and support diversity across the creative industry it is important that trailblazers describe occupations in a way that is inclusive of those from all backgroundsTrailblazers should also consider how they can enable people from a range of backgrounds and regions to take up an apprenticeship when many of the larger organisations are based in London and the South East. For example, using technology to make content more accessible and promote technical education more widely to increase diversity in the sector.  

The Institute is committed to supporting greater equality of opportunity across apprenticeships and wider technical education. In the Digital route review, the route panel identified that adapting the language used in the occupational standards to make it more gender neutral could encourage more females to take up digital apprenticeships. Whilst the data shows that 51% of apprentices starting in the 2018/19 academic year being female and 49% male, we want to ensure  that, as far as possible, the language used within occupational standards is appropriate to individuals from all backgrounds and ask all trailblazer to consider the language used in the occupational standard. Inclusive language will help ensure an occupation appeals to the widest possible audience. On our website we have guidance on both language readability and gender-neutral language to help support employers to use plain English and gender-neutral language.  

We have also launched a diversity and inclusion project this summer, to review all our products and work to make sure they are as accessible as they can be. The project will develop actions and recommendations to improve diversity and inclusion in technical education.  

The project will consider accessibility and diversity in relation to gender, ethnicity, disability, age and areas across apprenticeships, the levelling up agenda, T Levels and Higher Technical Qualifications.  

Its work will include: 

  • A review of the diversity of our membership, including route panels and trailblazers.  
  • An analysis of diversity data for apprenticeships and what this tells us about starts, completions and progression and how this compares to national statistics and the wider labour market.  
  • A review of our existing technical education products - apprenticeships, T Levels and Higher Technical Qualifications – to consider how to better support inclusion.  
  • Developing working plans with partner organisations, such as the social mobility commission and the in-work progress commission to further improve opportunities for all. 

2. Use of technology as an enabler to the creative process  

Technology is integral to many of the occupations in this route. It can also act as an enabler of the creative process, by for example creating a platform for expression or providing tools to support creation. For example, the craft industry has seen a growth in demand for craft skills through the development and use of online sales platforms. Occupational standards should be kept up to date with the latest technological advancements and include technical skills necessary to support creative expression, to ensure that all learners have the relevant knowledge and skills for their occupation.   

 This is particularly important as the country is looking at how to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen that the increase in remote working following lockdown has reduced some of the geographical barriers allowing greater access to some occupations.  

3. Include the relevant ‘soft’ skills for the occupation 

In a route where many are self-employed or freelance and occupations are often customer facing it is important that learners have developed the relevant soft skills for their occupation. Around 33% of businesses surveyed by Creative Alliance reported skills shortages within their organisation. The most common gaps identified by businesses were business marketing and communication skills and problem-solving skills.17 

 Occupational standards should include relevant ‘soft’ skills. The review found that creative leadership, communication, entrepreneurial/ marketing and project working skills were particularly important. 

4. Include content on sustainability and environmental impact for the occupation 

Employers in the route are increasingly considering how to reduce the environmental impact of their sectors, e.g. carbon offsetting, reduced waste, choice of materials. Addressing climate change and safeguarding environmental sustainability are also key priorities in the Arts Council’s Ten-Year Strategy.   

The UK has a target to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, building a greener country in which skills will play a key part. The government is now planning to create and support 2 million high quality, green jobs by 2030 to support the UK to transition to net-zero. The Institute has set up a new green apprenticeships advisory panel (GAAP) to ensure that apprenticeships and technical education are front and centre of this ambition. A table of GAAP endorsed apprenticeships can be found via the government’s Green Jobs Taskforce. 

The approvals process for all technical education will ensure the needs of employers within the growing green economy are met. This includes the creation of new standards to reflect new occupations that may, for example, contribute to meeting the challenge to reach net carbon zero or considering how the content of an occupational standard may take account of the green economy where it is not the primary focus of an occupation.  

 The Institute’s new sustainability framework is designed to support the inclusion of proportional sustainable development considerations in new and revised occupational standards at all levels. Trailblazer groups will be able to refer to the sustainability framework when developing an occupational standard to help include sustainable development considerations into knowledge, skills and behaviours that are relevant for each occupation. 

Trailblazers should, as far as possible, include in their occupational standard knowledge and skills statements which cover sustainability and awareness of the environmental impact in their occupation.  As part of the route review, we are asking all trailblazers to read the Institute’s sustainability framework and to use it to include sustainability characteristics relevant to their occupation. This applies to all occupational standards that are included in the review as well applying to any future revisions of occupational standards in the route. It also applies to all new occupational standards developed.  

 If further advice is needed on any aspects of this guide, trailblazer groups should get in touch with their product manager who will be able to support.   

 Wherever possible, the Institute will also support the new Green Jobs Taskforce set up by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Education to develop an action plan for creating the necessary new green jobs and skills. 

5. Maximising transferability 

All technical education products should be suitable for a range of different types of employers.  

 Our consultation showed that the creative and design route is dominated by small and micro businesses and many people are freelancers or self-employed. In contrast, the route also includes large employers such as BBC and Newsquest. Therefore, it is important that all technical education programmes, including apprenticeships and T Levels, meet the needs of different employer types, from micro-businesses to large multi-nationals.  

 When creating a new standard or revising an existing one, employers should make sure that they follow the current policy on trailblazer formation, which requires trailblazer groups to fully reflect the range of employers who represent the occupation.  

By consulting different types of employers, in particular small and micro employers which make up the majority of the employers in creative industries, trailblazers and awarding bodies can see how the delivery of an occupation varies across employers. This will ensure the development of an occupational standard that meets the needs of all types of employers. 

To further support micro-businesses, the government launched a £7 million fund to support more flexible apprenticeship opportunities. Sectors, including the creative sector, can now bid for a share of this fund to support the creation of new flexible apprenticeships that allow learners to work with multiple employers on short term projects to complete their apprenticeship. This will provide a new entry route to creative sectors that predominantly rely on freelance project-based workers  

3. Technical education provision and occupational maps

Across the creative and design technical education landscape, there are a variety of options for learners to choose from. The below section provides a brief insight to the different technical education productions available as well as an overview of progress to date.  

Occupational standards  

The review looked at 15 occupational standards in detail as part of the route review:  

  1. Assistant technical director (visual effects) (level 4) 
  2. Bespoke saddler (level 3) 
  3. Bespoke tailor and cutter (level 5) 
  4. Broadcast production assistant (level 3)  
  5. Creative venue technician (level 3)  
  6. Junior content producer (level 3) 
  7. Junior journalist (level 3) 
  8. Junior 2D artist (visual effects)(level 4) 
  9. Live event rigger (level 3) 
  10. Live event technician (level 3) 
  11. Organ builder (level 3) 
  12. Outside broadcasting engineer (integrated degree) (level 7) 
  13. Publishing assistant (level 3) 
  14. Spectacle maker (level 3) 
  15. Watchmaker (level 3) 

The final outcomes of the review of the creative and design route (as set out in the creative and design route review summary) have been shared with the trailblazer groups for the standards in scope. The trailblazer groups are currently working with their product manager to implement this review’s recommendations.  

For the standards that were included in this route review, we recognised the need to allow additional time for the trailblazer group to update the occupational standard given the unprecedented challenges faced by the sector due to COVID-19. Three of the 15 trailblazer groups (junior journalist, creative venue technician and live event technician) have submitted revised standards, awaiting approval, with the remaining still revising their standards. 

The Institute is working closely with DfE and ESFA to ensure that there is a smooth transition between existing and new versions of the apprenticeships for employers, apprentices, training providers, EPAOs and EQA organisations.  

Occupational map 

Apprenticeships and T Level qualifications are based on occupational standards. The standards set out the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to be fully competent in any occupation. The occupational standards are the foundation for the Institute’s technical education programmes within the route. An apprenticeship would require the appropriate on-programme and end-point assessments to be developed, utilising the relevant occupational standard as its foundation. The creative and design occupational map shows all occupational standards within the creative and design route.  

The maps group occupations with related knowledge, skills and behaviours into pathways, making it easier to see the opportunities for career progression within that route. Within each pathway, occupations at the same level are grouped into clusters, to show how skills learnt can be applied to other related occupations. 

 There are three pathways in the creative and design occupational map:   

  • Craft and design 
  • Cultural heritage and visitor attractions 
  • Media, broadcast, and production 

 The occupational map is owned by the Institute’s route panel which is made up of industry experts. Route panels use the maps to support decision making on occupational standards, T Levels and route reviews. The map enables the panel to identify additional occupations that need to be developed or which need to be merged with others or withdrawn. 

A key part of this review was to consult on the creative and design occupational map to ensure that the occupational map accurately captured and categorised the occupations that belong in the creative and design route. Changes were made to the route’s occupational map in January 2021, when the route review’s summary report was published. 


An apprenticeship is a great way to secure a successful future, and to develop professional skills from technical levels 2 and 3 through to professional apprenticeships at levels 6 and beyond – enabling career progression. In September 2021 there were 54 approved apprenticeships in the route: 29 at level 2 or 3, 13 at level 4 or 5, and 12  at level 6 or 7. 

The apprenticeship content is based on the occupational standard. An apprentice would become occupationally competent through practical on-the-job training, this represents 80% of an apprentice’s training time. The remaining 20% off-the-job training is usually taken in a college. On completion of an apprenticeship, an apprentice will be fully competent in that occupation. This will be measured through the end-point assessment, which all apprentices must complete.  

T Levels  

T Levels are new two-year technical study programmes, equivalent to 3 A levels and are delivered in schools and colleges. The content of the qualifications is developed from the knowledge skills and behaviour statements from the occupational standards on which apprenticeships are based. T Levels provide sufficient training in one or more occupations to enable a learner to enter skilled employment. 

T Levels are 80% provider based, and 20% industry based and the T Level programme includes: 

  • Technical knowledge and skills specific to an industry or occupation 
  • An industry placement of at least 45 days in the aligned industry or occupation 
  • Relevant maths, English and digital skills. 

The first three T Levels in construction, digital and education are currently being delivered. For the creative and design route, there are two T Levels currently in development in the following pathways which will be available for learners to start from September 2023: 

  • Craft and design T Level  
  • Media, broadcast and production T Level 

 The occupational standards within the cultural heritage and visitor attraction pathway were also considered for inclusion within a creative and design T Level. However, feedback from employers within this sector was that it would be difficult for T Level learners to enter these occupations due to the existing training and recruitment practices in the sector. Analysis on learner take up also showed there would be low demand for this T Level.  It was therefore decided not to go ahead with the development of this pathway. However, this will be kept under review as T Levels are rolled out over the next few years.  

 The aim is that both apprenticeships and T Levels will be able to provide an individual with viable routes into an occupation, recognising that individuals benefit from different types of learning. 

 As T Levels are based on occupational standards, it is expected that route reviews will have an impact on the composition of the technical qualifications that form the core of the T Level programme. Recommendations made in this review and any changes to content will be considered in the development of the craft and design and media and broadcast and production T Level to ensure they continue to reflect up to date practice meet the needs of employers.  

More information on T Levels can be found on our website and on tlevels.gov.uk. Our website has the final outline content for the craft and design T Level and the media, broadcast and production T Level. 

Levels 4 and 5 – Higher Technical Qualifications 

Higher Technical Qualifications are level 4 or 5 qualifications that have been quality marked by the Institute to indicate their alignment to employer-led occupational standards. New or existing level 4 or 5 qualifications submitted to the Institute’s approvals process will receive a quality-mark if the qualification satisfies our approvals criteria. Higher Technical Qualifications align to existing occupational standards, providing learners with entry-level competence and allowing them to enter their chosen profession or progress onto higher education. 

There is a growing demand for skills at levels 4 and 5 from employers and students. The number of learners taking qualifications at level 4 and 5 is low compared to other countries and other levels of education. With only 24% of apprenticeships in the route being at level 4 or 5, the new technical qualifications should help increase the access to learning at this level.  

For Higher Technical Qualifications, we have put in place an employer-led approvals process, building on our experience and expertise of approving apprenticeships and T Levels. We will compare the qualifications submitted to employer-designed occupational standards which set out the knowledge, skills and behaviours an individual should achieve to be deemed competent in an occupation. Where a qualification is aligned to the standard, meets any relevant regulatory requirements, and provides the knowledge, skills and behaviours for entry into the occupation it will be approved by the Institute to use the quality mark.   

The approval of Higher Technical Qualifications will initially be organised on a route-by-route basis. The first approval process started in September 2020 and focused on qualifications that aligned to occupations in the digital route. The first digital Higher Technical Qualifications will be taught from September 2022.  

Creative and design Higher Technical Qualifications are currently scheduled for launch in cycle 4 in 2023 with the intention for first teaching from 2025. More information regarding Higher Technical Qualifications and the planned approvals rollout on our website. 

Future route reviews 

We have also now published full reports for hair and beauty and agriculture, environmental and animal care. We are aiming to publish the full report for engineering and manufacturing this autumn. All reports can be found on our website. 

The Institute is making changes to how it conducts route reviews in the future. The new approach is currently being piloted in the construction route and further details are available on our website. Further to this, any changes needed to individual occupational standards outside of the route review will be done using the revisions, adjustments and dispensations process. More information on this can be found on our website. 

4. Annex A: Experience of working in creative and design

Top tips on how to overcome some of the challenges in delivering an apprenticeship for a specialist craft occupation

We have spoken to David Poole, from the watchmaker trailblazer group. He describes some of the challenges with delivering the level 3 watchmaker apprenticeship and provides some top tips on how to overcome them. 

watchmakersTry to engage training providers and end-point assessment organisations early

Securing a training provider and an end-point assessment organisation (EPAO) can be difficult for specialist craft occupations which tend to have smaller cohorts of apprentices. Providers are reluctant to develop specialist workspaces for small numbers of students. I spoke to ten training providers before meeting with Uxbridge College, who, eventually, became the training provider for the watchmaker apprenticeship. It then took nearly a year to work out how the watchmaker apprenticeship could be delivered.  We had a much easier time finding an EPAO, but it will vary from case to case. I had previously developed a qualification in clock and watchmaking with the EPAO EAL and one person remembered my previous involvement.  That helped to make the initial link.  An early start to explore options and find a training provider and EPAO will result in fewer delays to delivery.

Read up as much as possible

Read and understand as much as possible about trailblazers, apprenticeships, funding rules, how to register training providers and end-point assessment organisations, etc.  Gaining sufficient knowledge is a strength and encourages meaningful and effective conversations about delivery, end-point assessments, etc.   

Persist and persist and persist 

Developing an apprentice from the first meeting of the industry group to seeing the initial cohort commence is more like a marathon than a sprint.  Every step in the process takes time.   

Whilst the process for allocating a funding band has changed a lot, for watchmaking, the process for allocating the original funding band wasn’t straightforward and took nearly six months. Our first funding band was lower than expected and so we appealed. The process for an appeal required a quotation; it was, however, it was difficult to gain quotations from training providers for a niche apprenticeship. Eventually, there was a training provider who was willing to submit a quotation and a new, higher band was approved.  

Be resourceful 

The obvious answer may not always be the right one; sometimes, a more creative approach will be required. While working to develop a model for delivering the watchmaker apprenticeship there were several dead ends.  

Instead of using a traditional model with the training provider managing all the off-the-job training, we used a  Lead Provider to subcontract delivery to a watch servicing business which had kindly offered to create a small training facility.  There are other solutions such as the training provider employing a tutor at the workplace to undertake the teaching.

Be realistic about what is possible

Although we achieved what, en route, often appeared impossible, it will never be viable to develop an apprenticeship for every craft. There are very specific demands to be met: for some craft occupations it might be better to find a different training option.  

Seek advice from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, take an objective view of the proposal and first challenge yourself to ensure an apprenticeship is really possible.  It will prevent valuable time being spent developing the documentation for an apprenticeship and then discover it cannot be delivered. 

Apprenticeship journeys 

Holly, Jean and Jamilah tell their personal apprenticeship stories below: 

Holly is a collections assistant at The Harris, a museum and art gallery in Preston. Below, Holly shares how her passion for history and culture led her to the museums and galleries technician apprenticeship

I accidentally discovered the apprenticeship when I was helping my brother look for a job. It intrigued me as I never thought you could do an apprenticeship in this sector. However, after reading the description I just thought 'this is me', so, I applied.

I didn’t think I would get the position, as most people who had applied were much older and had already been to uni. I was at my part time job, in the stockroom working when I got the call. I was so happy I think I screamed after hanging up!

It is great that apprenticeships exist in the arts, culture and heritage sector. For some people, like me, uni is not the answer, which means that you have limited opportunities to enter the cultural sector. I think that lots of organisations are starting to change their views and are no longer just asking for a degree, but equivalent experience.

I have been at the Harris for two years and I love it. Every day is different as we are quite a small team, so the job role is very varied. One day I could be documenting exhibits, the next installing an exhibition, then talking to a curator from a national art gallery.

I really like all the different bits of my job but if I had to pick a favourite, it would be getting to spend time with collections. We are currently preparing to decant our building due to a refurbishment project, meaning I am getting to see parts of the collection I never knew existed. There can be so many stories and questions surrounding one object : Who owned it? How did it get here? Some of which never get answered.

Some of the most memorable moments during the apprenticeship have been whilst working on the recent exhibition The Artful Line which features drawings from our own collection and The Courtauld Gallery collection. As part of my work on the exhibition I got to travel to London to visit The Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House. I also got to attend the Courtauld summer school, which was amazing.

One of the biggest achievements for me was that the Big Issue magazine published an article I wrote about The Artful Line.

How has your work changed following Covid-19?

Since the start of the pandemic, a lot more of my work is online. Online exhibitions, social media content, conference meetings etc. 

I think the lockdown pushed everyone forward in a direction we were already going. We have, like many others, wanted to do more online and have a bigger digital presence, but the lockdown forced everyone to act quickly. So far, we are finding that the move online works quite well, and we are also reaching new audiences through social media who might not previously have considered visiting a museum or art gallery. 

Another great thing about working more online, is that you have endless space to exhibit and tell stories. In a physical building you are limited by the size of the room or the space on the walls. We are, for example, able to showcase more items that aren’t on display using our website and social media.

What are your top three tips to someone who wants to become an apprentice?

I know its cliché but if you find a job that you love, you'll never work a day in your life. Especially with an apprenticeship when you will be learning on top of working, it is really important to do something you like.

Don't feel as though you have any less chance than anyone else at getting an apprenticeship. Just because someone is older or more experienced doesn't necessarily mean they will get it.

If you are passionate and hardworking you will progress far. Showing your enthusiasm can do a lot.

Jean is a feature writer at Take a Break Magazine. An established journalist, she completed the junior content producer apprenticeship at Bauer Academy last year to expand her digital skills.

I have worked in journalism for 28 years. I did work experience straight out of university and have continued working in journalism ever since. In this time the sector has changed quite a bit.

I decided to do the junior content producer apprenticeship because I noticed that younger people that I worked with seemed to know all about social media, different digital platforms and video editing. Working in print media, I didn’t know any of that, which intimidated me.

A big motivator for me was my mother. She retired at age 50 because she was intimidated by the computers that came into her workplace. I didn’t want that to happen to me so I decided to do an apprenticeship so that I would be able to keep up and understand the new platforms and technology in this digital age of journalism.

I think it is really important that older people, and maybe especially older women, don’t get intimidated by new technology. For me, the apprenticeship was a good way of supporting my continued development in my career.

How did the apprenticeship support your career?

Journalism is becoming more digital and the junior content producer apprenticeship has given me the knowledge I need to be comfortable and proficient in using social media and other digital tools for my work. For example, in my last role I was often asked to cover the social media editor role and the way I write a post is different now from what I would have done before.

I also think it has also made me a better journalist. Having been a journalist for some time, it is really easy to become complacent in how you write. The course gave me a fresh way of looking at things. Seeing different approaches and formats, really inspired me and has changed the way I think about things. I feel like the boundaries are off and I’m full of new fresh ideas at work.

I really think that the apprenticeship has supported and helped to extend my career.

What did you enjoy the most about the apprenticeship?

One of my favourite things was editing videos. I had never done it before the apprenticeship. I had been intimidated by it as it was something so alien to me. The first time I successfully edited a video and delivered it was the moment when I realised that okay, there is stuff out there that I don’t know but if I just keep trying, I can learn anything.

I’m no longer scared to approach new things. For example, if I don’t know how to use a piece of tech I will go onto Google or YouTube and just find out how to use it. It gave me a real can-do attitude.

Do you think that the move to digital platforms and working more digitally is improving access to jobs in journalism?

I definitely think that the shift to digital is helping to break down barriers to entry. We are seeing young people with the know-how and ability being able to share stories on social media. I think it is it is opening the door for people without traditional skills to show their creativity and ability.

The more entrenched digital journalism becomes the more we will see more people entering that haven’t necessarily followed the traditional route.

At the same time, it is important that we continue to provide people with opportunities to develop some of the traditional skills, as it is important that journalists continue to uphold the rules and standards of the trade.

Finally, what is your one piece of advice to someone who has just started an apprenticeship?

Don’t be intimidated to try new things on your course! There was stuff I didn’t understand straight away but the course leader would always go back over those things with me, and I always got there in the end. Remember people are there to help so never be afraid to ask.

Jamilah is a recent member of the apprentice panel, which provides first-hand accounts to inform decisions made by the Institute. An apprentice alumna, she completed a digital marketer apprenticeship at Google in early 2020, then worked full time as a Community Programmes Associate at Multiverse. She's now pursuing freelancing in creative design.

When I finished my A levels, I was eager to get stuck into learning and practicing those skills immediately in the workplace, which you get to do with an apprenticeship. As my school did not actively promote apprenticeships, I had to seek out the information I needed myself. I was also supported by my parents, who were a big help in getting me prepared for my next step into the working world.

I was interested in photography and wanted to work in a creative field like graphic design. However, there were not many opportunities available at the time. I then found a great opportunity to become a digital marketer with Google and decided to take it.

I worked at Multiverse as the Community President, and then a Community Programmes Associate. This involved working on various programmes and network opportunities for our apprentice community. Multiverse works with leading creative agencies such as Ogilvy to deliver apprenticeships and, whilst these are not currently specific programmes within creative, it introduces the idea of having apprentices in the creative industry. My work at Multiverse also enabled me to advocate for apprenticeships on a local and national level by taking part in panel and webinar discussions and flagship apprenticeship events such as National Apprenticeship Week.

Alongside my role at Multiverse I was part of two national apprenticeship panels – with the Institute and the National Society of Apprentices. These allowed me to participate in various discussions and initiatives, and through these I have spoken on BBC Radio 4 and appeared on BBC London News on A level results day. It is important that apprenticeships are vocalised on these occasions, to show students leaving school that there are alternative routes into higher education.

You were a member of the Institute apprentice panel for a year and a half, how did you find it?

I found the experience eye-opening in many different respects. In addition to the media opportunities already mentioned, working with apprentices across the region and from different industries and programmes has shown me the range of skills that apprentices can develop. I have also been able to work on initiatives that will have an impact on how apprenticeships are delivered in the future such as the Best Practice Handbook. I found this particularly rewarding, as it will benefit future apprentices by ensuring that apprenticeship standards are of the best quality.

One of my proudest moments so far has been speaking alongside two of my fellow apprentice panel members at the FE News Skills World Live event on the apprentice stage. This gave us an opportunity to share the work the panel has been doing, for example sharing the results of the apprenticeship panel survey we produced to gather data on apprentices’ experiences. Over a 1,000 people filled in the survey, giving us really good insight into apprenticeships. We were able to get more exposure for the work we had done, and sparked interest with different stakeholders to support our initiatives.

How do you think apprenticeships can benefit the creative and design sector? 

I think the apprenticeship route is more appealing to aspiring creatives as they can learn directly from industry specialists. Apprenticeships bring a new way of learning by emphasising the practical element of teaching. This is key for creative and design work, as you can immediately apply what you have learnt through practical projects in the workplace. Apprentices can also bring fresh and innovative ways of thinking, which can help to diversify workplaces.

You are now becoming a freelance creative designer, tell us a bit about it.

I've decided to leave my 9-5 job to explore the world of graphic design as a freelancer. I've always had a passion for anything creative, and have aspired to move into the creative industry at some point in my career. As I'm still figuring out where I want to settle down in regard to my long-term career plan, I thought now was the time to venture into something new. I'm incredibly lucky to have some contacts already working in the creative industry, who will guide me and help me get my feet on the ground as a Creative. It's a scary but exciting new part of my journey, that I'm really looking forward to exploring more!