I’ve just got back from the 5th transatlantic trip for UK apprenticeship providers and suppliers in the States.

This year’s trip was over in sunny California – which was a huge contrast from being snowed in last year in Missouri!

I’ve attended all 5 trips and every time I’m amazed at the passion for apprenticeships in America. They really want to make it work.

Like the UK, they’re already suffering from a skills shortage, and know that if they don’t do something soon it’s only going to get worse. They also know they have a lot to learn in order to scale up their starts, which is why they’re keen to learn from the UK.

The 16-strong UK delegation was led by AELP ’s CEO Mark Dawe and sponsored by NOCN , from which Jan Richardson-Wilde and Tom Burton attended.

There was a mix of providers – such as Ixion, University of Lincoln and Whitehat – and suppliers, like OneFile, LearnBox , NCFE, VTCT and Aptem, and for the first time, an employer: Health Education England.

California: The US powerhouse of apprenticeships

The focus this year was on digital and healthcare. On the first day, everyone suffering from some degree of jetlag, we attended the stunning College of the Canyons where we were warmly welcomed by Jeffery Forrest, the vice-president of economic workforce development for the college, and Kelly MacKey, regional director of strategic partnerships.

Kelly described California as the US powerhouse of apprenticeships, with 3 times more starts than any other state. They currently have around 90,000 registered apprentices and have a vision to increase this to 500,000 by 2029. It’s a huge undertaking, so they’ve recruited 40 additional roles to support this growth.

New collar industries

They see the biggest skills shortages in ‘new collar’ industries, such as IT, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and the public sector. And this is backed up by businesses. Employers such as IBM, Amazon and Google are all keen on increasing their apprenticeship numbers.

Jeffery said that California is running out of people to employ – so they need to employ and then deploy quickly. He also talked about diversity. Only 6% of apprentices in the states are female, which is a big issue.

Another focus for the college is cyber security. There are currently 36,000 cyber security vacancies in California alone – which is mind-blowing. In the state, it was reported that 80% of small businesses who had a data breach would be out of business within 12 months of the breach. It's a massive problem for the economy there, and they see apprenticeships as a great solution to this.

They have a lot to think about – but as Jeffery said, the UK-US partnership is invaluable and it’s the collaboration they need to support their growth.

The British division was up next, and Mark Dawe shared a rapid, but comprehensive explanation of the UK model. Jan Richardson-Wilde presented NOCN’s vision for collaboration. Lucy Dunleavy and I then shared the impact of using technology for apprenticeships.

Healthcare skills gap

It was a busy day – and day 2 was no different. This time, the focus was on healthcare at the packed conference room at East Los Angeles College. Monica Thurston, department programme director at Allied Health, explained the state’s healthcare skills gap and that it’s expected to rise.

We have a similar shortage  in the UK and are using apprenticeships to train and retain in the healthcare sector. Jane Hadfield and Lucy Hunte took to the stage and gave an excellent presentation on how the NHS is using their £200 million levy fund  to close the gap on their own employment issues.

We also heard from a former apprentice and single mum who explained how her apprenticeship allowed her to retrain while supporting her family. It was an uplifting story to end the session.

Over the weekend, we travelled to San Diego to attend the California Apprenticeship Initiative Conference.

The problem of perception

Charles Henkels, apprenticeship director at Norco College, said that part of the problem with American apprenticeships is perception. He shared a photograph of his grandfather’s machinist apprenticeship certificate from 1927 which he now has hanging at home.

He said they need to change the reputation that apprenticeships are just for traditional trades, like construction and boat building, and promote them as modern qualifications for roles in digital and finance etc. But it’s going to take time.

27 states are currently writing and registering their own standards which could take up to 2 years to be approved. It’s a long process, but it’ll be well worth the wait.

Members of the UK delegation were then given an hour to share our experiences. There was an audible gasp around the room when we announced the billions of pounds of apprenticeship funding the UK receives. Funding is a massive issue in the States due to the sheer scale of the programme there.

However, Mark Dawe extrapolated the UK apprenticeship figures to California’s population, and said that to deliver the equivalent of the UK, they’ll need 4.2 million starts by 2029 – which is a lot more than their 500K target.

Maintaining Quality

Next up, Martin Johnson from Ixion, who’s one of our customers, spoke about how they maintain quality. Ixion is rated outstanding by Ofsted, so he shared their best practice and challenges as a provider.

Going to the US was also a great opportunity for me to catch up with Kim Nicols from Franklin Apprenticeships – OneFile's reseller in America.

They have a contract to deliver 400 motor vehicle apprenticeships and 100 digital apprenticeships for the innovative workforce development team of Missouri. It’s a huge opportunity for the state and for OneFile, so watch this space!

It wasn’t all work and no play. We went to an LA Dodgers baseball game where AELP and NOCN were welcomed on screen. We visited Hollywood to snap the Hollywood sign and stars on Hollywood Boulevard.

We had a very competitive Jenga game #Jengaboys, enjoyed some very large margaritas, and my personal favourite, sipped a Screwball peanut butter whiskey.

It was a great week all round and we’ve been invited back by the Californian Apprenticeship Department for their next work-based conference in April.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Chief Eric Rood – Division of Apprenticeship Standards:

Training an apprentice can change a life. Train lots of apprentices and change the world.

Susanna Lawson, Co-Founder and CEO of OneFile

To hear more about my journey through the changing world of apprenticeships, follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertiser Skyscrapers

Video Advert

Newsroom Activity

Sarfraz Ahmed commented on Preparing learners for the jobs of the future post pandemic 6 hours 30 minutes ago

Cindy what an engaging article appropriate for our modern times. Definitely will share with others.

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page