6 ‘quality essentials’ for great apprenticeship provision

Employers of apprentices now have far greater influence from the planning stage through to successful end point assessment and certification.  The UK government’s latest reforms for apprenticeships have been both substantial and sweeping.  The focus being to put the employer at the heart of the apprenticeship process, which, in practical terms not only has meant greater control for employers, it has also led to new learning of knowledge, skills and behaviours – where apprentices have not only to understand how but also why

Here we share some of our advice with Wirral Chamber employers who want to know that their apprenticeship programmes are delivering quality to both the business and the individual.

  1. Candidate eligibility

The whole learning process can quickly unravel if candidates simply aren’t suitable for an apprenticeship programme. This quickly becomes a negative experience for the learner. Check that your provider’s recruitment/administration team has fully implemented the eligibility criteria for the apprenticeships offered. This helps to ensure that every candidate placed will be suitable for the programme – and is able to successfully work towards its completion. It’s good for the apprentice, employer and the learning provider.

  1. Baseline assessments

As candidates are enrolled, it’s essential to capture a comprehensive and accurate baseline assessment of their prior skills, knowledge and behaviours. Without this, not only is demonstrating progress difficult, the apprenticeship programme can’t be tailored to the learner’s individual needs.  Your training provider should be assessing and capturing the learner’s skills, knowledge, work behaviours; along with English and mathematics application and development. Make sure that they are gathering this information to tailor the apprenticeship to both the individual’s aspirations and to their job role.

  1. New learning and skills in the workplace

Apprenticeship standards focus on what the apprentice needs to know, needs to do and how they behave. A standard is more than a qualification. Learning by doing may be supported by blended learning and embedded assessment. Your provider should be planning, supporting and coaching apprentices to better prepare them for their job role and end-point assessment requirements. This can be quite a leap for some training providers, who have traditionally assessed competence in the workplace. It’s a fundamental rethink of how apprenticeships are delivered and subsequently, how learning and assessment of new skills, knowledge and behaviours are planned and managed.

  1. Tracking progress

Your apprentices must demonstrate progress of their learning, with both on-the-job and off-the-job activities. Check that your training provider is measuring and recording this progress against the skills, knowledge and behaviours in the standard and assessment plan.  This will ensure improvement and demonstrate progress.  The previously mentioned capturing of the apprentices starting points (baseline assessment) is a vital component in tracking progress.  It’s vital to know where each learner’s journey started.

  1. Regular reviews

Tracking progress should involve the learner and employer, not just be statistics recorded by your learning provider. Reviews should be planned by your provider to evaluate what the apprentice can do or know by each review milestone.  All parties should be able to understand the learner’s achievements and have influence over progress through regular, independent reviews. These evaluate the apprentice’s progress against milestones, recognise achievement, assess how well the learning undertaken to that point supports documented career goals and review the benefits to the business. Learning is a journey for everyone and tracking the stages along that journey ensures success. It also allows for learning to be adjusted as required – to challenge each individual apprentice to make the progress of which she or he is capable, and to support the goal of a personalised learning experience.

  1. Coaching, not assessing

The cornerstone of today’s apprenticeship programmes is a fundamental shift away from the more traditional assessor delivery model to that of a more holistic ‘workplace coach’ approach. This provides a far stronger platform for apprentices to learn new skills, gain knowledge and adopt behaviors that better prepare them for not only the end-point assessment but also for a successful career. Ensuring your provider has adapted to these new delivery methods is key to meeting new apprenticeship delivery standards.

The Learning Network has been set up to partner with levy-paying businesses across England for,

  • Planning and advice to achieve best ROI and value out of accrued levy funds
  • Reviewing, benchmarking, sourcing and quality assuring training providers
  • Reviewing and designing best fit apprenticeship programmes aligned with business goals
  • On-site and interim apprenticeships management

Find us at www.tln-ac.uk or contact Mark Shepherd for more information 0203 940 5148 / 07384 117 853

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