The Energy & Utilities Independent Assessment Service (the EUIAS) has passed the 250-mark of apprentices completing end-point assessment* on the new English apprenticeship standards. At the time of writing, the number stands at 268, including the sector’s first achiever, first female engineer and the first to graduate on the new water process engineer standard.

The EUIAS marked its 1st and 100th achievers in July 2016 and October 2017 respectively by celebrating at the Houses of Parliament, events which were attended by a host of VIPs, including representatives from the Institute for Apprenticeships, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Apprenticeships, the Department for Education, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Ofgem.

The EUIAS has been appointed on the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s Register of End-point Assessment Organisations to deliver end-point assessment for nine of the new ‘Trailblazer’ standards in England that Energy & Utility Skills** had developed in partnership with sector employers. These are safety critical, high quality technical apprenticeships within niche specialist areas that are vital to support our national infrastructure for power, water and gas.

Thousands of apprentices from over 30 leading sector employers are currently undertaking apprenticeships on a wide range of standards, supported by employers who are passionate about raising the bar and profile of apprenticeships more widely. On completion of the apprenticeship, they secure occupations in roles that are critical to the UK economy and productivity, and a career pathway that is full of opportunity for individual progression.

The EUIAS is currently providing end-point assessment for apprentices within major utility-based organisations such as E.ON, Electricity North West, Grosvenor, Morrison Utility Services, National Grid, Northern Powergrid, SSE, Severn Trent Water, Siemens, via Search Consultancy and UK Power Networks.

Dr Jacqueline Hall, Associate Director of the EUIAS, said: “Reaching 268 is an encouraging start and a great achievement, especially since our sector is strategically important to the UK economy.

”We are proud of our work to help employers navigate and make the apprenticeship levy work by providing high quality end-point assessment tools and services. Our sector has a long history of creating apprenticeships in the UK. Now we have just passed the first anniversary of the levy, we can reflect on the important contribution apprenticeships are making to our sector workforces and are grateful for the ongoing support from our employers within a safety critical sector”

Apprenticeships provide a vital supply of talent to help address energy and utilities’ recruitment challenges. The Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy*** details the challenges sector employers face in recruiting to technical roles. Also, the 2015 Employer Skills Survey found that 36% of sector vacancies are proving hard to fill due to a lack of skilled applicants. This is the highest percentage across all sectors in the UK; the average is 23%. This is of great importance for UK productivity: energy and utilities combined account for the greatest share of the UK Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline (2017/18 - 2020/21).****

* End-point assessment allows apprentices to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and behaviours, as defined in the published apprenticeship standard, so that they can complete and achieve their apprenticeship.

It is taken by apprentices at the very end of the on-programme phase of training when their employer (and in some cases their training provider) is satisfied that they have met the “gateway” criteria to undertake the assessment.

An independent organisation must be selected by an employer to carry out the end-point assessment of each apprentice, to ensure apprentices are assessed consistently and comparably. End-point assessment is graded as defined in the published assessment plan. An apprenticeship certificate is only awarded after end-point assessment is successfully completed.

** The new standards include Power Networks Craftsperson, Water Process Technician, Dual Fuel Smart Meter Installer, Gas Engineering and Utilities Engineering Technician. Read more. Energy & Utility Skills is at the forefront of bringing our industry leaders together to identify and address the skills challenges our sector faces. It provides membership, assurance and skills solutions to help employers attract, develop and retain a sustainable skilled workforce. It collaborates with employers to support their workforce needs and sector-wide workforce mobility. Energy & Utility Skills was a driving force behind the creation of the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, a collective of leading sector employers that are working together to secure the continual seamless delivery of the wider sector’s services across the UK.

 *** The Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy was the first-ever coherent strategic plan for the continued delivery of essential energy and utility services to 65 million people every day across Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland. The Skills Strategy was published in February 2017 by the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, whose mission is to “ensure a safe, skilled and sustainable workforce provides the essential services that our customers seek and meets the UK’s needs from the energy and utilities infrastructure.”

**** The energy and utilities sector’s combined share of the UK Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline is 43% (£104.8bn), which is significantly greater than the next largest category – transport at £78.5bn, which is responsible for 29% of 2017/18 – 2020/21 Pipeline.

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