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Foster-led group of leading practices ‘trailblazes’ architect apprenticeships


A group of 20 leading architectural practices has created two sets of standards to help open up entry into the profession through the apprenticeship route

The ‘trailblazer group’ is chaired by Foster + Partners with participating practices including Feilden Clegg Bradley, Grimshaw and AHMM. It has drawn up the new standards with the RIBA, ARB and more than a dozen UK universities.

The standards, which have been approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships, cover architectural assistant and architect roles.

The apprentice scheme is aimed at attracting a more socially diverse group into the architecture profession.

All practices interested in offering apprenticeships will be able to access funding for training costs from the government’s apprenticeship levy which was applied in April last year to all UK employers with an annual payroll of more than £3million.

A statement from the group said: ‘The apprenticeships have been set up to improve the link between practice and academia, while also contributing to improving diversity in the profession.

‘The approval of the scheme demonstrates how the industry can work together to make a positive contribution in the development of the profession.’

The apprenticeships combine workplace experience with academic training. Those participating will receive a salary and be exempted from tuition fees.

Completing the architectural assistant apprenticeship would gain a Part 1 qualification, and those finishing the architect apprenticeship would gain Parts 2 and 3.

The group has also published a detailed set of assessment criteria for both roles.

Both apprenticeships will last four years each.

The Architecture Trailblazer Group includes:

  • Foster + Partners (chair)
  • Lipscomb Jones Architects (architectural assistant standard sub-lead)
  • Hawkins/Brown (architect standard sub-lead)
  • Seven Architecture (architectural assistant assessment sub-lead)
  • Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (architectural assistant assessment sub-lead)
  • Scott Brownrigg (architect assessment sub-lead)
  • Pollard Thomas Edwards (architecture apprenticeships guide sub-lead)
  • Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
  • Arup
  • BDP
  • Grimshaw Architects
  • HLM Architects
  • HOK
  • HTA Design
  • Perkins + Will
  • PLP Architecture
  • Purcell
  • Ryder
  • Stanton Williams
  • tp bennett


Ben Derbyshire, RIBA President:

It is with great excitement that we welcome the news of the approval for the first ever Architecture Apprenticeships.

For more than 18 months the RIBA has been working with a Trailblazer Group of 20 architectural practices co-ordinated by Peter Garstecki of Foster + Partners to develop two Apprenticeship Standards: Architectural Assistant (Part 1) and Architect (Part 2 and Part 3) which have now been approved by the Institute of Apprenticeships.

This vital initiative will help us to improve the diversity of our profession, to attract young people to study architecture and provide more accessible routes to qualification and employment opportunities. The exposure to contemporary architectural business will be a major benefit for students and practices will also benefit from the challenge of a new commitment to developing talent.

The new Apprenticeship Standards will help to encourage the widest talent pool and address the underrepresentation of architects from lower socio-economic backgrounds who, without parental support, face barriers to full-time education.

The RIBA will now work hard to broker relationships between practices and schools to meet the potential of this new route to qualification and create the infrastructure for life-long learning in practice.

Adding this new route to the existing range of RIBA validated full and part-time and practice-based options for studying architecture is an excellent step in creating a profession that’s far more accessible to young people from any background, and I am excited to work with our practices going forward as we put the wheels in motion and follow the journeys of the very first architecture apprentices.

Earlier this month the AJ launched its 2018 student survey to find out what you think about your education. The results will form an important part of our research into the realities of student life.

Take the AJ student survey here


Readers' comments (6)

  • Excellent- we’ll done to there practices. A step in the right direction.

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  • At last, a prospect of graduate 'product' knowing how to both design and build? And possibly even to Conserve? An eventual end to builders regarding us all with contempt, based on their experience of the average 'architect'? Hallelujah!

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  • This is fantastic news! Effectively a contemporary revision of the traditional pupillage approach, heralding a new era of practice-led architectural education/training relevant to 21st century economics. This could very well recalibrate the image of the profession within the construction industry. It's worth noting that the LSA has also paved the way for this in some way over the past few years, with their mixed mode of course delivery. Well done to all practices involved in these initiatives. Students (or apprentice architects, as I guess they will be called) will earn as they learn, and not be divorced from the realities of practice/industry in the way they continue to be in academia (despite worthy approaches such as the 'Live Build' projects undertaken at various schools). Finally, some real structural correction from the damage of the 1958 Oxford Conference. I just hope it takes off, and receives the required level of support both legislatively and academically.

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  • Great news- may mean that our profession has chance of once again being egalitarian. It certainly isn't now. I am up for it as a small rural practice in Somerset

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  • At last!
    Long overdue!
    It was one of the several practical policies that I advocated in my manifesto for my bid for the RIBA Presidency in 2006.

    I fully endorse Robert Franklyn when he says that it should once again enable students and young architects to know how to design and to build, and end the contempt that many builders justifiably have of our profession.

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  • What Crap. The government are only offering £21k to the architecture level 6 apprenticeship, whilst level 6 for qs, se, civils, M&E get £27K, so universities will probably not offer architecture, unless you are a big practice who can bank roll it. What about smaller rural practices who want to invest, but cannot afford to covert the £6k shortfall.

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