Featured Article

featured

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

This article discusses the importance of apprenticeship 'time-serving' in the work context and its absence in general plumbing qualifications and Trailblazer in England. In the context of plumbing apprenticeships, time-serving may be understood as sustained employment doing technical and professional training under the supervision of a more qualified person.

The vast majority of tutors and students in my study of full-time courses and apprenticeships in plumbing viewed work experience as the most important aspect of vocational teaching and learning. Indeed, in my observations, it emerged as a crucial element in the education and training of plumbers. It not only helped apprentices to understand and embody some of the theory taught in college, but it also acted as a strong motivating force in terms of their enthusiasm and commitment to learning. Apprentices enjoyed their real-world experiences, and they were observed to be far more motivated in the workplace than in the college setting.

In terms of the working relationships developed between apprentices and their colleagues in the workplace, my study showed these were highly valued by both adult students and apprentices. First, the relationships impacted on their work ethic. The apprentices in my study were inclined to take on the characteristics of their co-workers' identities in the work context. They assimilated their co-workers' busy behaviour in working to deadlines, producing high standards of workmanship and productivity. This was in contrast to the work ethic often observed in what some described as the 'more laid back' environment of the college. Second, the working relationships had a direct impact on the apprentices' learning. Co-workers were described by the majority of students as responsive in helping them to learn at work. Some described their co-workers as friends, and others showed respect for those they had learned from in the field. When apprentices made mistakes, they learned from this process safely while being continually supervised, corrected and advised by co-workers. They were guided in taking supported risks in their work-based learning, which helped them develop knowledge and competence in dealing with increasingly difficult tasks over time. In this respect, the plumbing apprentices were being 'scaffolded' in their learning, which helped them to deal with the unexpected plumbing problems that are an integral part of the occupation. In short, the findings of my study suggested that apprentices' time-serving experiences in the workplace could not be fast-tracked, learned or replicated as effectively elsewhere.

The empirical evidence presented here is supported by the academic literature, which argues for the importance of work experience in the learning and understanding of vocational skills and knowledge. Despite this, there is ambiguity surrounding a key aspect of the apprenticeship Trailblazer standard in relation to the need for genuine work experience. The BIS (2014: 24) Trailblazer guidance states: 'a new entrant to the occupation will require at least one year of training to meet the standard'. It fails to specify, however, whether training will be undertaken via a full-time college course or in the context of the workplace and, as such, it implies that evidence of plumbing competence can be acquired through college-based training without the need for employment or qualified supervision in the workplace.

Although there is a common assumption in the vocational literature that NVQs brought an end to time-serving in apprenticeships, there was clear evidence that the apprentices in my study were learning at work over periods of up to four years, which meant they could be deemed to be time-serving. However, there was very little in the plumbing qualification to acknowledge this significant achievement. Historically, apprentices became Journeymen or Masters when their apprenticeships finished, but these titles were removed from apprenticeships to give weight to the NVQ as the key outcome of apprenticeships. These apprentices were observed working to the standards expected of them by their co-workers, clients and external inspection bodies. This implies that they were already working to standard and therefore no additional external assessment was required, which poses serious questions as to the purpose of Trailblazer end-testing and whether it is needed for employed apprentices serving long apprenticeships.

In conclusion, time-serving in apprenticeships must be central to any quality apprenticeship standard, and competence-based plumbing qualifications should not be awarded to candidates who cannot provide sustained evidence of supervised workplace experience. As work experience is something that cannot be replicated outside of the work context, it is far too important to be left to vague interpretation in any apprenticeship standard.

Dr Simon Reddy is a master plumber and FE teacher and a founding member of Tutor Voices

Sponsored Video

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