The Ministry of Justice’s Apprenticeship Strategy, designed to meet the allocated targets consists of 3 strands:
1) Promoting the use of Cabinet Office approved apprenticeships programmes to develop professional skills;
2) Designing and delivering operational apprenticeship standards for specific operational roles; and
3) Promoting the use of apprenticeships as an entry route / development of career pathways for staff at all levels of the organisation.
In March 2020 the MoJ reported a year on year increase in apprenticeships starts vs 2018-19 by 31%; and it was expected that this trend would continue into the new financial year, with the recruitment of c3,500 prison officer apprentices nationally throughout 2020-21.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 has significantly impacted the delivery of our apprenticeship strategy; particularly in the prison operational roles with activity being paused in the short term. Plans are in place to rapidly re-start operational apprenticeships as soon as it is both safe and operationally viable to do so.
The apprenticeship strategy focuses on recruitment of operational staff within prisons being largely predicated on an apprenticeship model, with all new operational support grades being strongly encouraged to undertake a level 2 apprenticeship as part of their initial training; and plans for all new prison officers to undertake a level 3 apprenticeship with effect from January 2021 (following a successful pilot of the programme in early 2020)
Across the MoJ, 1,199 staff are currently undertaking an apprenticeship programme of learning; of which 143 are on a higher level (degree level or above) programme. Apprenticeships span a broad range of professional and operational areas such as Business Administration, Customer Service, Operational Delivery, Project Management and Finance. These cover a range of qualifications from Level 2 (equivalent to GCSE, up to Level 7 which is equivalent to a Masters Degree.
The MoJ Apprenticeship Strategy is being updated to include an even stronger focus on ensuring equity of access to programmes for staff across all protected characteristics and will seek to understand trends for withdrawals and completions.