Apprenticeship training providers and end point assessment organisations have called on the government to stop further risking the reputation of apprenticeships as part of the troubled levy reforms.

To avoid more damage, they are requesting a small extension to the time limit for recording the number of successful apprentices scheduled to complete their programmes in the current academic year.

In advance of an AELP summit on end point assessment (EPA) on Thursday (06 June) when the key government agencies regulating the quality of apprenticeships will be represented, AELP argues that the current 31 July deadline is an artificial one fixed for system purposes only. 

By finally accepting the long made warnings about a summer bottleneck in putting apprentices through an end point assessment, the government would reduce unnecessary pressure if it postponed the deadline until October.

For many of the new apprenticeship standards which all require an end point assessment of each apprentice at the end of the training programme, there is currently a shortage of assessors available to conduct assessments. 

Adding to the increasing numbers of apprentices ready to be assessed since Easter are huge volumes planned to go through in June and July in order to count towards this year’s programme performance data, but the capacity simply isn’t there.

In a blog published online today (6 Jun), AELP chief executive Mark Dawe points out that this year the performance data could end up showing training providers supporting 12 months’ worth of leavers but only 8 or 9 months’ worth of completions, depending on the standards. 

If there is a subsequent perception that the quality of programme delivery is found wanting, then employers and young people exploring their options will be put off apprenticeships. 

AELP’s pragmatic solution is that any apprentice with a locked-in planned end date up until 31 July should be counted with the current academic year’s success rate if the apprentice subsequently successfully and fully completes their EPA by the end of the ESFA’s R014 data collection period this October.

Mark Dawe comments:

‘This matter has nothing to do with the quality of apprenticeship training but simply because there is not enough EPA capacity in the system.  After all the battering that the levy reforms have taken in the media and at Westminster, isn’t it more sensible to allow a little bit of flexibility that will protect the reputation of apprenticeships among employers and young people when it comes to success rates?

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‘The government should remove the false academic year deadline of 31 July from what is after all a constantly recruiting and completing training programme which doesn’t fit into an academic year cycle.’

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