Jamilah Simpson, aged 20, and Louis Curtis, aged 22, are members of panel of apprentices for the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (@IfATechEd). Below they tell readers about the recent Apprentice Panel Survey 2020 which resulted in six key recommendations for change to how apprenticeships operate. The panel is also now working on its own best practice guidance as a support to apprentices, training providers and employers.
Joining the panel of apprentices was an important step for me in ensuring that I can continue challenging negative perceptions around apprenticeships and help make positive changes nationally.
I’m a former level 3 digital marketing apprentice at Google. At 20 years old, I now work at WhiteHat, which is a tech-startup business which supports work to create a brilliant support network for apprentices and publicises apprenticeships as an outstanding alternative to university.
I am extremely passionate about making sure apprentices’ voices are heard. I want to be able to share the views of my peers and act as a representative to the apprentice community across the country.
We recently launched our report on the results of our survey with apprentices. This showed up trends about the general apprentice experience, including end point assessments (EPA), off-the-job training, and the relationship between training providers, employers and apprentices.
Our headline result is 87% of respondents would recommend their apprenticeship to others. This shows that apprenticeships are majorly making a positive impact on further education routes.
However, while we received a lot of constructive feedback, we cannot stop there.
The apprentice panel and the Institute now has a powerful body of evidence that we can call upon to influence policy and continue improving standards. We will be focusing on working with all the different stakeholder groups – including training provider and employer representatives - to help ensure that standards are met across the board, and apprenticeship experiences are the best they can possibly be. This could be done through improved commitment statements, demonstrating best practices for end point assessment expectations and regulating on/off the job training.
With that being said, 70% of respondents were satisfied their off-the-job training was useful in their job. This is extremely positive as it shows that the skills learnt during apprenticeship training is applicable to apprentice’s daily jobs. However, for the remaining 30%, more steps should be taken to ensure apprentices receive their entitlement to at least 20% off-the-job training during their apprenticeship. The apprentice panel strongly believes that the value from an apprenticeship is in the delivery of appropriate amounts of high-quality training. More could be done to ensure this training is received in line with government rules.
Another positive result from the survey was 85% of respondents had signed a commitment statement. The commitment statement ensures that the quality of an apprenticeship is delivered from the various stakeholders involved – so the apprentice, employer and training provider. We want more to be done to strengthen commitment statements and ensure everyone sticks to them. The panel will also continue to work on ensuring a good standard of pastoral care for apprentices by employers and training providers, which must be defined and delivered.
Overall, it is clear to see that apprenticeships are largely well-received and generate broadly positive experiences. The panel and the Institute will continue working together to ensure that apprentices gain the full benefits from their apprenticeships, and demonstrate the real value of taking this route to more people considering doing apprenticeships in the future.
Running the survey was a great opportunity to gather first-hand evidence from apprentices about what is working and what needs to be improved further.
Jamilah Simpson, Apprentice Panel Member and former Google Digital Marketer Apprentice
The apprentice panel devised the following recommendations in our report reacting to the survey results:
1. Adequate preparation for End Point Assessment (EPA) should be defined and made compulsory in the delivery of apprenticeship standards
2. More steps should be taken to ensure that apprentices receive their entitlement to at least 20% off-the-job training during their apprenticeship
3. Define best practice in delivering apprenticeship training and ensure that all training providers and employers deliver on- and off-the-job training to at least a minimum defined level
4. Minimum standards of pastoral care of apprentices by employers and training providers should be defined and delivered, recognising especially the situation of younger apprentices and those with caring responsibilities
5. More steps should be taken in the marketing of apprenticeships to promote the value of apprentices to employers, and apprentices’ own perceptions of the value of on-the-job learning
6. Create a strengthened commitment statement that places more emphasis on quality of apprenticeship delivery, to hold training providers and employers to account and to assist in meeting the recommendations above
Encouraging survey results with apprentices but lots more to be done
I am pleased to be able to start by reporting that our survey, which gathered responses between April and June this year, found 81% of apprentices were satisfied that their apprenticeship would equip them for future developments in their industry.
I am a member of the panel of apprentices and recently completed a level 5 mineral products technology apprentices at Aggregate Industries and the University of Derby.
The main purpose of the panel is to ensure the views of apprentices are represented across the work and governance of the Institute, which is responsible for developing new apprenticeships with employers. We also deal with policy makers at the Department for Education (DfE).
The panel decides for itself which issues to focus on and can advise and challenge the Institute’s board.
Of the 1,049 apprentices that we surveyed, 87% would recommend their apprenticeship to others.
In my personal experience, I have had a comprehensive support network of mentors and tutors who have challenged, guided and empowered me to take every opportunity available to me, push out of my comfort zone and drive change. Collectively, 83% of apprentices surveyed were satisfied or very satisfied that their on the job training was useful in their job. Now more than ever apprentices are receiving relevant and meaningful work experience with an industry respected qualification.
The survey being launched in the middle of a national lockdown also provided the opportunity to capture how apprentices had been impacted by COVID-19. This information has been fed back as part of the national response to COVID-19.
We are also working hard on our own best-practice guidance which we hope will really support apprentices, training providers and employers looking ahead.
Louis Curtis, Apprentice Panel Member and Mineral Products Technology Higher Apprentice
Apprentice panel ‘apprenticeship starter pack’, best-practice guidance for employers, training providers, policy-makers and other stakeholders begin embedding these expectations in usual practice: