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Trailblazing the way to Apprenticeships with the new Standards

Taking on an apprentice now means using the new “Trailblazer” Apprenticeship Standards – which has seen a reinvigoration of quality and rigour across the re-designed Apprenticeship landscape.

Part of the Government’s reform around Apprenticeships, these new Standards are summed up in a concise, two-page document which lists out the skills, knowledge and behaviours required for an apprentice to be competent in their new role.

Most importantly, the new Standards for the science-using sector have been designed by the employers on the Life Science and Industrial Science Trailblazer – so they are completely employer-led and designed.

The new Standards are quite different to the previous Frameworks. While the apprentices are still required to spend 20% of their contracted time on off-the-job training, this does not have to be classroom based. In fact their learning can include hands-on training, being mentored, shadowing colleagues, industry visits and attending competitions, as well as time on written assignments.

And unlike the previous system, the cost and the duration of the Standards-based Apprenticeship is now negotiated directly with the training provider, underpinned by either levy vouchers or co-investment funding (non levy payers contribute 10% towards to the cost of apprenticeship training and Government pays the rest - 90% - up to the funding band maximum).

It all means that the experience can be designed and maximised to meet the needs of both the apprentice and the employer, working closely with the provider. So the employer can start with the role it needs to fill, and design the training and on-programmeassessment around that.

End-point assessment 
One of the biggest changes to the new system is the requirement for the apprentice on a Standard to successfully pass end-point assessment tests.

SIAS offers an independent end-point assessment service for science industry apprenticeships. This assessment is completely impartial – one of the key recommendations made as part of the reforms.  This means the assessor, who will be an expert in both the sector and in assessment, has no prior knowledge of the apprentice and no involvement in the training. And it is the employer who selects the end-point assessment body.

The assessment for the apprenticeship occurs at the very end of training and rather like a GCSE, it can be passed or failed. However, unlike traditional exams, it does not necessarily take the form of a written examination (although this may be a component).

Each Standard has an assessment plan which specifies the design of the end-point-assessment – and while this may include a traditional exam type exercise, it will also include other activities, for example being observed solving a work-place problem, a portfolio of work projects, a work diary, or a presentation to a panel of experts. The assessments chosen reflect the type of work undertaken.

This combination of approaches means the apprentice can demonstrate their competencies using a range of different test methods.

The end assessment process

The new Standards can be used for both new recruits and for existing employees, to both bring in new talent and provide development opportunities for the current workforce.

And of course, for levy-paying employers, using the new Standards is a great ways of getting a return on what you pay to the Government’s levy pot – many employers are now using them to address their key skills needs and create pathways through to Degree level and beyond.

If you would like to understand more about the new Standards, or end-point assessment please get in touch with us. In the meantime we’d be delighted if you downloaded our most recent webinar Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Apprentice End Assessment.

SIAS delivers end-point assessments for the following approved Apprenticeship Standards:

Laboratory Technician
Science Manufacturing Technician
Science Industry Maintenance Technician
Laboratory Scientist