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National Apprenticeship Week - Essential Skills for Life

This week marks the sixteenth annual National Apprenticeship week. This year’s theme is ‘Skills for Life’ and there is a focus on creating a talented workforce of the future through a focus on literacy, numeracy and digital skills this year. Skills Builder Partnership is committed to supporting the application of these skills with the development of essential skills. Essential skills are ‘Skills for Life’: those highly transferable skills that everyone needs to do almost any job, and which support the application of technical skills and knowledge.

Working with over one hundred employer partners, Skills Builder Partnership collaborates with a number of employers to ensure that essential skills development is at the heart of their apprenticeship training. To mark National Apprenticeship Week, here are three apprenticeship spotlights from our employer partners. Working across different industries, each example shows the power of embedding an essential skills focus in apprenticeship programmes in order to equip individuals with the skills they need to succeed as they embark on their professional journeys.


Clarion Housing Group, the largest housing association in the UK, supports over 250 apprentices into roles each year, working both internally within Clarion and also with external partners. Their employer programme with Skills Builder has focused on the 30 internal apprentices they take on each year. Through embedding our Universal Framework into the quarterly appraisal process, apprentices use our Benchmark tool to assess their skill strengths and development areas. 

From this assessment, apprentices work with their mentors to set development goals that focus on specific skills with their goals exploring how they can grow in these areas using their working experience as well as the Framework’s accompanying learning tool – Launchpad. Essential skills learning is also supported through access to regular training and webinars for apprentices and their line managers that are facilitated by Skills Builder.

Allen & Overy

Allen & Overy were the first magic circle law firm to offer apprenticeships. Upon the launch of their Solicitor Apprenticeship last year, Allen & Overy worked closely with Skills Builder to create a training roadmap within the apprenticeship programme to ensure apprentices acquire and develop their essential skills. 

Allen & Overy has worked with Skills Builder to integrate the Essential Skills Academy into the training programme for their solicitor apprentices. Alongside the live workshops, participants assess their areas of strength and development against the Skills Builder Framework. They also take part in self-directed learning by completing short courses on skill steps they would like to develop using Launchpad.

Thames Water

Working alongside Skills Builder, Thames Water has embedded the Skills Builder Universal Framework across the recruitment of apprentices. Integrating the language of the Framework from the beginning of the recruitment process has allowed Thames Water to build consistent, skills-focused criteria to recruit apprentices. By mapping these recruitment competencies to the framework, Thames Water was able to support apprenticeship candidates to prepare for interviews by giving them tools to identify their essential skills beforehand. 

Feedback for candidates was grounded in how well they were able to demonstrate their essential skills. Thames Water felt that through embedding the framework, candidates were able to communicate their skills with confidence at interview and they were able to recruit candidates that had the best skillset for the roles.

Interested in joining the Employer Programme?

We have limited availability for our Employer Programme for this year and we’re  looking for ambitious businesses and organisations who want to join the Partnership and make the most of essential skills in their organisation.

To find out more and download a prospectus, visit our Employers page.