Apprenticeships are gaining better recognition as a positive opportunity for both those who follow them and employers who need new staff with the right training (see our blog on 5 Employer Benefits of Apprenticeships).
At CMS, we help employers find the right apprentice for their organisation and support individual learners as they progress. For this reason, we welcome the new standards that have been brought in for apprenticeships, from ensuring learning is tailored to the role to completing the new final End Point Assessment (EPA).
What are ‘trailblazer groups’?
These are groups of employers who are recognised by the Institute for Apprenticeships and have secured an agreement to develop an occupational standard and EPA plan. They should be ‘reflective of those who employ people in the occupation, including small employers’.
Trailblazer groups are given guidance and support by Relationship Managers from the Institute for Apprenticeships as they go through each stage of the process.
Who oversees these standards?
This is the role of the Institute for Apprenticeships, an organisation that empowers employers ‘to help them define and create high-quality apprenticeships’. It operates according to criteria set out by the Department of Education (DofE).
Why are the changes being made?
The aim is to introduce more flexibility for both the employer and the apprentice and satisfy the requirements of the regulatory body Ofsted.
What changes have been introduced?
The focus has been broadened beyond assessing competence to ensuring apprentices are developing skills and knowledge specific to their apprenticeship.
While learning will continue throughout the apprenticeship programme, with regular assessments, apprentices will now have a new End Point Assessment (EPA) to complete at the end of the apprenticeship.
How will the EPA work?
The EPA will be tailored to each subject, recognising the difference between apprentices working in different environments, from warehousing, logistics, education and doctors’ surgeries (see our blog: Case Study: Doctors’ Surgeries) and office-based roles (see our blog: An Apprenticeship in HR).
EPAs must be taken by all apprentices enrolled on an apprenticeship standard at the end of their training, to demonstrate that they have achieved competence in their particular occupation. The assessment can include written testing, interviews and workplace observation.
The Institute of Apprenticeships says that EPAs should be ‘rigorous, robust and independent’, to ensure apprentices can show that they are fully trained according to the requirements of the relevant occupational standard.
What to expect?
Throughout the apprenticeship the apprentice is made aware of the expected content and modes of assessment for their EPA. As the apprentice completes the teaching and learning aspect of their apprenticeship, they enter the ‘gateway’. The gateway is a stage in the process to confirm the apprentice has completed all of their learning and they are competent to be assessed – this process has to be confirmed by all three parties, the employer, the apprentice and the provider. Once confirmed, CMS will arrange the EPA ensuring the apprentice and the employer are aware of the assessment date.
As the training provider, CMS can arrange the End Point Assessment on behalf of the employer and manage all aspects of the programme from start to finish.