Richard Marsh, Apprenticeship Partnership Director, Kaplan Financial

The recent IFA publication Faster / Better included a useful update on which qualifications can be included in an apprenticeship and why.

In essence I think it is saying you cannot formally accredit on the job competence during the apprenticeship as this will happen at the end.

Thus reasserting the pre-eminence of the EPA as the point at which competence is certified.

Beneath the detail of that point, what it also highlights is the ongoing tension over who has ‘control’ in Apprenticeships and skills.

One of the few areas of consensus in UK skills policy for decades has been that we need an employer–led system or at least an employer responsive system and this has driven decades of policy.

hand 998957 640

Providers were once told to ‘hide the wiring’ from employers – lest they be blinded by our bureaucracy – it was like some kind of FE card trick and didn’t really work very well.

But there was also a long list of initiatives and special funds ££ designed to open the door for employers and to give them some form of control or at least influence on the ‘sector’. (SSCS, NSAs, 14-19 Diplomas, TQS, EOP I & II etc etc ** ).

I am not sure that anyone thinks any of these initiatives had a lasting impact (even those of us who diligently worked on their implementation) although to be fair there was not really any clear idea as to what they were supposed to achieve.

But they did perhaps help set the scene for the bolder changes to come.

And more recently employers have been given several significant levers:

  • A leading role in setting local priorities through LEPS,
  • The chance to write Apprenticeship standards through Trailblazers
  • Ownership of Apprenticeship funding – via the levy (well footing the bill anyway)

Employer views on the success of these levers probably depends upon which sector you are in and how much is in left unspent in your levy account.  

But one area that is still very much a live debate is the role of qualifications in apprenticeships (and I suspect it will occur for T-levels too).

The antidote to Awarding Body games

Hopefully I am not alone in struggling to keep up with the subtle differences between qualifications that are classed as being ‘Mandatory’, ‘Licenses to practise’, ‘Prescribed’, ‘Vendor’ or even ‘Section 96?’.  (Perhaps FAB or Ofqual could provide a glossary?)

However, I do know that some of these are ‘good’ qualifications and some are ‘bad’ - at least when it comes to apprenticeship funding.

When discussing apprenticeship qualification options with employers it isn’t always easy to explain the rationale between good and bad qualifications and that all of this is due to them ‘being in charge’.

Mornington Crescent

If you ask employers what training they want – there is every chance the answer is “more of what we have always been buying” (or why would we have been buying it). However as this will not always neatly overlap with what Gov. might want them to buy, thus we get ‘tension’.

Of course as protector of the tax payer the Gov. does not want apprenticeships to act as conduit for bringing qualifications that used to be commercially funded into the government funded tent, as this raises the spectre of ‘deadweight’.  And Gov. and its proxies are also rightly charged with protecting the interest of the citizen – in this case the apprentice.  Especially when this is a younger person at a critical stage of their career.

So ‘allowing’ employers to control the system, whilst ensuring apprenticeships make the desired difference to social mobility and productivity is a real policy challenge – especially in an all-age all-level programme like ours.

Deadweight contagion is controlled in other countries by erecting Age or Academic level barriers – we have put our faith in a 20% barricade.

If this isn’t explained well or presented thoughtfully it can feels like a bit like ‘Government knows best’ and can lead to frustration.

T + A = C

If you look at HR / CIPD this is a great example of a real cross over product. It is both a new apprenticeship that is becoming highly sought after but it also has had a long and successful life as a well-known commercial product.  And so it exists in two distinct spheres.

This then introduces the situation where the same ‘product’ can be brought in two very different ways and for two very different prices (also see Degree apprenticeships….).

Thus we all spend a long time explaining how the Apprenticeship is different and more (and it is) than just any of the qualifications within.

I believe that the only really credible way to explain this is the educational argument that an apprenticeship is   Theory + Application = Competence. Whereas a qualification on its own only guarantees the T of that equation.  

And so Apprenticeship, as a dual-study method that ensures Theory is not only understood but also implemented which adds extra value for the employee and employer.

Certificating the hierarchy

I haven’t seen one of the new ESFA issued apprenticeship standard certificates yet – but I know there are some out there…

And so I wonder whose names and logos are on them.  If they are big enough we might all feature – like the credits at the end of a film – and if so I would list the actors in this order:

  • The learner
  • Their employer
  • The Professional body (if there is one)
  • Any awarding bodies (for allowed qualifications)
  • The training provider
  • The EPAO
  • The EPAO’s EQA
  • The IFA
  • The ESFA

To me this is probably the hierarchy of importance in Apprenticeships that we should all keep in mind.

Richard Marsh, Apprenticeship Partnership Director, Kaplan Financial

** Abbreviations 

SSC Sector Skills Councils

NSA National Skills Academies

TQS Training Quality Standard

EOP Employer Ownership Pilots

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page