Friday, June 28, 2013

British Farrier Training: College-Based Training Replaces Agency-Run Apprentice System

For as long as there have been farriers, there have surely been apprentices, because that is how the skills and knowledge were passed down through the ages. There was secrecy, and some would say there was magic. While in the United States, apprenticeships are free-form and unsupervised, in Great Britain they are part of a government program that charged an alphabet soup of agencies, colleges and organizations with running a modern training system based on an ancient tradition. 

They stock the truck. They sweep the floor. They're something left over from a Charles Dickens novel, and yet they are the future of the profession. Everyone was one, once.

They are apprentices. And their role in British farriery is about to change.

A month ago, the traditional British farriery system was in turmoil. After a disappointing report filed in a government agency evaluation, funding for future apprentices' stipends during training was cut off by the government and the entire farrier training system was questioned.

To restore the system, which places and funds young trainee farriers to work with certain "approved" training farriers scattered around the British Isles, an alternate system was needed--and quickly.

Today the answer came in this official jointly-authored press release from three main private and government agencies involved with farriery in Great Britain. The future will surely be different, but the tradition of farrier training on-the-job--and the tradition of farriers being assisted by young apprentices--will continue, albeit within a different framework, as colleges take on a leadership role in shaping how the training is executed.

It is a power shift, but perhaps not quite a paradigm shift. At least not yet.

The following announcement was issued today in Great Britain. It's a bit hard to understand from it how things will actually change but it is more an announcement that change has come. The notice is reproduced for you to read.

From: The Master of the Worshipful Company of Farriers
The Chairman Farriers Registration Council
The President of the British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association (formerly NAFBAE)

27th June 2013

Following the poor Ofsted report on the National Farrier Training Agency (NFTA), the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) stopped funding for all new apprenticeships.

With the Minister expressing concerns over how quickly NFTA could be put back on the road, SFA endorsed a new model, which proposed the colleges taking over as providers of training, drawing funding direct from SFA.

The colleges explained their position at a Future of Farriery Training meeting at Stoneleigh on Friday 21 June, where Mike Bell, the Director of Strategic Intervention at SFA, advised the meeting that the way forward was in line with current government thinking on apprenticeships.

This new model will fundamentally retain the same sort of structure of a combination of both college training and experience in the workplace, but the colleges will be fully involved in approving and have a direct agreement with both the farriers who are training apprentices and also with those carrying out assessments in the workplace, all without the involvement of a separate training agency.

As required by the Farriers Registration Act,  the Farriers Registration Council (FRC) will accredit training and monitor the delivery of training by colleges, with the power to strike off a college which was failing to deliver good quality apprentices for the Diploma. The FRC will remain in full control of the training system through these powers while the Diploma – with the standards set by the Worshipful Company of Farriers (WCF) - will remain the key pathway through to becoming a farrier.

To fund the accreditation and monitoring service the colleges have agreed to provide a levy to the FRC.

The new direction for farriery training was endorsed by the FRC at a full Council Meeting on Thursday 27 June.

With the Council decision made today, much must now be done to bring the new training system into action so that apprentices are provided with a safe learning environment and an effective and enjoyable training system. Colonel Stephen Boyd will head up a small team within the FRC. He will work in conjunction with the WCF, BFBA, the colleges, and the SFA.

The timescale has yet to be finalized but the move of existing training is expected to take place during autumn 2013, with the first intake of new apprentices starting in early 2014. The NFTA will continue to exist to run existing apprenticeships until the handover to colleges takes place, which will be sooner rather than later.

The scale of the change is well recognised and inevitably there will be many questions which cannot be answered immediately. We will keep you informed as decisions are made and it is intended to run a formal briefing session at the Farrier Focus day at Stoneleigh during the last weekend in September.

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