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How can Apprentice retention be improved?

Gareth Phillips, Vistar
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@VistarQuals- Supporting Apprentice Retention Rates 

Spending increasingly valuable resources, time and money, recruiting, starting and inducting Apprentices, and finding out that just 60.2% of Apprenticeship Standard Apprentices stay until their programme ends, identifies that actions are required.

This has been highlighted by the Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan, which focuses the mind, that the priority is to retain every single Apprentice through to the successful completion of their End-point Assessment (EPA).

With new starts expected to remain under pressure it is vital that we consider new end-to-end strategies on how to retain Apprentices and deliver improved achievement rates and have a sustainable future, keeping in mind the requirements of the ESFA and Ofsted.

So, where are the gaps?

  • Unclear expectations of the Employer’s and Apprentice’s knowledge, roles and responsibilities throughout the duration of the Apprenticeship
  • Limited Initial Assessment of the Apprentice’s prior knowledge, skills and behaviour respective to the Standard enrolled on
  • Insufficient planning of how the delivery team will engage with Employers and Apprentices throughout the programme
  • Insufficient evidence to demonstrate the quality, consistency and standardisation across the delivery team
  • Limited understanding of the Apprentice’s learning style

How can Apprentice retention be improved?

  • Ensure that you have a complete plan for your ‘intent, implementation and impact’ for the duration of the Apprenticeship programme
  • Fully engage with the Employer prior to taking on Apprentices, and ensure they are aware of their role and responsibilities for the duration of the Apprenticeship Standard, and EPA
  • Explain fully to the Apprentice what Apprenticeship Standard that they have been enrolled upon, including the EPA
  • Ensure the Apprentice is aware of the expectations and responsibilities they have for the duration of the Apprenticeship Standard, and EPA, to complete their Apprenticeship
  • Conduct Initial Diagnostic Assessment to assess each Apprentice’s knowledge, skills and behaviours against the respective criteria prior to delivery. This will confirm the Apprentice is on the right Standard, at the right level, and will establish a true starting point to build bespoke, contextualised and individual Schemes of Work and Action Plans for each Apprentice
  • Have confidence in the content, quality and consistency of your curriculum to meet the full breadth and depth required in the Standard
  • Have structure and consistency throughout your delivery team including the plan of active and ongoing engagement with the Employer and Apprentice
  • Keep the Apprentice motivated helping them to understand and recognise their progress on an ongoing basis
  • Integrate training and formative assessment of the required knowledge, skills and behaviours within delivery as the building blocks to increase the Apprentice’s confidence in the requirements as well as the assessment methods they will face at EPA
  • Give the Apprentice the best opportunity to perform well in their EPA by providing an End-point Preparation Assessment, to identify any further training needs prior to EPA

If you need advice, guidance and support to improve retention, Vistar has created the products and services to support Training Providers in the delivery of Apprenticeship Standards.

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The Vistar Apprenticeship Service Pack (ASP) starts at the very beginning with the Vistar Initial Diagnostic Assessment (IDA) to be taken prior to delivery. The reports from the IDA integrate into the building of Schemes of Work and Action Plans supported by Workbooks which are all designed to work on an e-portfolio system. The Vistar ASP also includes a Vistar End-point Preparation Assessments (EPPA) to prepare the Apprentice for their EPA.

To demonstrate and evidence what the Apprentice has covered during their Apprenticeship, and to keep them motivated, certificates of learning progress can be claimed upon successful completion of each Workbook. The critical part for Training Providers is that you will be allocated a dedicated Vistar External Quality Assurer to support you at every stage of the Apprenticeship delivery. Vistar’s approach offers structure, consistency, process, ways of evidencing, contextualisation and support at every stage.

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