The new standards meet the needs of employers
Standards were introduced as part of the Government’s major apprenticeship reforms. The standards represent a shift from assessing to learning and put employers in control.
A standard contains a list of the knowledge, skills and behaviours an apprentice will need to have learned by the end of their apprenticeship.
Standards are occupation-focused; they are not necessarily qualification-led. The learning happens throughout the apprenticeship. And the apprentice is assessed at the end. They need to prove that they can carry out all aspects of their job. They develop transferable skills and gain credibility too.
There may be a college day-release element to the apprenticeship standard. Typically technical apprenticeships will require day release whereas business and administration will be delivered in the workplace. Both technical and business administration apprenticeships will be supported by regular visits from your Sigta training officer.
Standards are being developed to raise the quality of apprenticeships by responding to the needs of employers, who know what they want from their employees. They can best describe what knowledge, skills and behaviours an apprentice will need at the end of their apprenticeship.
Below is a typical Apprenticeship Standard for an engineering role.
Off the job training
The standards include a 20% off-the-job training requirement. This means providers and employers need to work together to plan learning activities outside of the apprentice’s normal working duties. Off-the-job training is mandatory and will be audited, so it needs to be properly organised and recorded. This applies to apprenticeships that do not have day release to college as well.
Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours
Knowledge Skills and Behaviours (KSBs) represent the core attributes an apprentice must have in order to be competent in the occupation they are working in. They are the main assessment methods used in an end point assessment.
A Test of Competency
The KSBs must be met by the apprentice, evidenced and assessed in order to pass their course. If they fail just one part of the KSB, they will fail the entire end point assessment.
An assessor is appointed who is independent of Sigta. It is the role of the independent end point assessor to test an apprentice’s competence against the KSBs rather than against the duties that they have developed for the job. It is important to identify the KSBs required to undertake each duty, and map each KSB to at least one duty.
Knowledge refers to the technical detail and ‘know-how’ that an apprentice needs to both attain and understand in order to carry out their duties. Some of these will be specific to the occupation, but some may be broader such as first aid training.
This is where the apprentice’s knowledge is applied in a practical manner. Skills will have been learned through both experience, and on-the-job training from a senior member of staff.
One thing to be aware of is that skills shouldn’t be a repetition of the tasks or duties the apprentice carries out. What we mean here is that a duty may be ‘machining a component, but the skills will include setting up and programming the machine tool.
Behaviours are mainly referring to the mindset that the apprentice has. Do they think in a way that is required for the duties they are expected to carry out? These don’t just have to be instinctive, they can be learnt too.
The great thing about behaviours is that they are transferable, so they may be similar across apprenticeship standards. Knowledge or skills tend to be more specific to a particular apprenticeship. Examples of behaviours include: teamwork, problem solving, and having a professional attitude.
End point Assessment
End Point Assessment (EPA) is the final assessment for an apprentice to ensure that they can do the job they have been training for. EPA is separate to any qualifications or other assessment that the apprentice may undertake during the on‑programme stage of the apprenticeship.
At the end of an apprenticeship, the apprentice will go through a ‘gateway’ process where they are signed-off by their employer as ready for a final assessment of their knowledge and practical capabilities. The assessment will be graded (in most cases) and the Independent Assessment Organisation (IAO) and assessor must be independent of, and separate from, the training provided by the provider and employer.