The assessor role is changing. This changing assessor role is best demonstrated by two recent articles I read.
In an article published on FE News called "The changing role of the assessor in apprenticeships", Hilary Read, of Read On Publications, argues that:
"You (assessors) need to ensure that your own occupational competence and knowledge are up-to-date. This is to ensure you have the right skills and knowledge to remain credible to employers. Employers involved in apprenticeships are already taking the assessment function in-house. You may need to go back into industry to remain employable."
Euan Blair, Founder & CEO of WhiteHat, writing for Unifrog Education Ltd, said this:
"The current shift from apprenticeship frameworks (narrow, didactic qualifications that suited a generic approach to delivery), to apprenticeship standards (flexible, employer-designed qualifications that match skills gaps), should be hugely supportive of this endeavour. Currently, too many assessors lack sufficient relevant experience to deliver a truly modern, work-based qualification. A particular concern is the number of assessors who are so far removed from the latest developments in their sector that they are ill-equipped to deal with crucial technological developments. Attracting top quality professionals to deliver apprenticeships is not straightforward, but a significant selling point will be the chance to teach university level qualifications, as will working with employers in a sector they know well to develop innovative content and delivery methods. This development could bring with it a new generation of outstanding teachers/assessors."
Business as usual for assessors will just not cut it.
Commenting on the Apprenticeships 4 England LinkedIn group, Rob Martin, Chair of the Board of Governors at ATHE, suggested that this is also a good opportunity to review the model of learning. Rob’s suggestion cantered on “three stages of developing competence”: Acquire - Apply - Assess. How (and where) the learning will take place, what opportunities to apply skills and knowledge are planned, and finally when and how will assessment take place. In organisations where these stages are well planned and resourced with the right people at the right time - effective learning has a chance. In organisations, which use the "assessor" title as a catch-all, this is unlikely to happen.
So, how should assessors prepare for the coming changes? Here are a few suggestions:
- Find out about the apprentice standards in the sector you are interested in. A good place to start would be the government website on standards.
- Invest in CPD and expand your skills by taking courses offered by entities like Edx, FutureLearn, and Coursera.
- Gain practical experience. It may well be that you spend some time working in the industry again to refresh your skills.
- Volunteer for special projects at your college or training provider to gain practical skills.
- Finally, read industry news sites like FE News to hear from the main players in your sector.
Wilfred Wright, Assessor, Jobwise Training
Wilfred also runs Vocational Online, a resource site for assessors and trainers.