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Survey shows major vote of confidence in apprenticeships but more work to do 

Influential panel of apprentices, which is overseen by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute), calls for changes around end point assessment (EPA) and off the job training

A report setting out the learning and assessment experiences of more than 1,000 apprentices has been published today.

The 27 members of the Institute’s panel of apprentices, who represent the views of learners to apprenticeship policy makers, have reported on the responses and published recommendations for change. This is accompanied by the Institute’s analytical data report and tables.

These documents show that even with the COVID-19 outbreak, 87% of apprentices surveyed said they would recommend their apprenticeship to other people wanting to train in their occupation.

Most also believe (81%) they have been equipped with skills enabling them to adapt to future developments within their industry, while 82% felt satisfied their apprenticeship had laid the foundation for a successful career.

Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of the Institute, said: “The survey was created by our panel of apprentices for all apprentices. It has provided invaluable insight into how apprenticeships are working for the people who matter most – the learners.
“I was delighted that the vast majority of them would recommend apprenticeships to other people. However, it’s not good enough that around a third reported they are still not getting their full quota of training.  There is clearly more work to do so we are fully supporting the panel’s recommendations.”

The survey took place between April and June this year. Its questions focused on the partnership between the apprentice, employer and training provider, whether apprenticeship standards are being translated into meaningful training experiences for learners, and apprentices’ attitudes to the end-point assessment.

The panel has made recommendations, which the Institute addressed below, reflecting their concerns over further statistics. Key among them was how more than a third (38%) of respondents reported not receiving at least 20% off-the-job training and 45% had not seen or read their assessment plan. 

Louis Curtis, apprentice panel member and mineral products technology higher apprentice, said: “The survey was a major project for the panel to lead on and we’re proud of the results.
“There was lots of good feedback on apprenticeships showing in the main that they are working very well. We have also though picked out areas where we can see that improvements are needed and will be following these up with the Institute and Department for Education.”

 

Jamilah Simpson, fellow panel member and former Google digital marketer apprentices, said: “The fact that 87% of apprentices would recommend their apprenticeship to others shows what a positive impact they are having across the country, but we can’t stop there. The responses to this survey give us a lot to work with to continue improving apprenticeships and make sure they are the highest standard they can possibly be.”

 

The full list of recommendations and the Institute’s responses are set out below:

Recommendation 1: Adequate preparation for End Point Assessment (EPA) should be defined and made compulsory in the delivery of apprenticeship standards

  • It is essential that apprentices have a good understanding of what will be expected of them when their competence is tested at the end of their apprenticeship and we are committed to helping ensure that apprentices have all the information they need to enable this. In the first instance, we are looking to routinely develop short summaries of end-point assessment (EPA) plans whenever new ones are published, and are also planning to produce videos explaining how different methods of assessment are carried out in a typical EPA plan.

 

Recommendation 2: More steps should be taken to ensure that apprentices receive their entitlement to 20% off-the-job training during their apprenticeship

  • The fact that around two thirds of respondents (62%) reported their apprenticeships were meeting this key quality indicator shows we have come a long way since the 20% off the job training rule was launched three years ago. Before the 20% rule was introduced in 2017 apprentices reported they were only getting around three hours off the job training per week. Now the majority of apprentices say they are spending at least the equivalent of a full working day. Good progress has been made but there is clearly more to do.
  • We recognise that what constitutes off-the-job training can be complex and it is important that apprentices understand what they are entitled to. Fundamentally, we believe that this needs to be tackled via a clearer commitment statement that has more visibility and authority amongst the partners in any apprenticeship and we will work with the ESFA and other partners to progress this. We will also work with the apprentice panel to help them to clarify off-the- job issues via the best practice guidance they are planning to develop, which will be published on our website.

 

Recommendation 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

  • Whilst it is important that employers and training providers have the flexibility to deliver training related to the required knowledge, skills and behaviours in a way that best suits the apprentice and employer, we agree that some additional guidance would be helpful. We are therefore planning to trial the development of specimen training plans with some Trailblazers and other partners. Such support for training providers will help to drive up the quality of training delivery.

 

Recommendation 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

  • Effective pastoral care can have a highly positive impact on the wellbeing of apprentices and this, in turn, maximises their chances of successfully completing their apprenticeships. Mentoring can play a key role here and we are therefore planning to work with the apprentice panel and other partners such as the Quality Alliance and our route panels to develop guidance for apprentice mentors.

 

Recommendation 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

  • We will do more to communicate success stories by more regularly highlighting apprentices and their achievements in the media. In addition, on the apprentice panel’s related point about focusing more on where an apprenticeship takes an individual rather than their starting point, we are looking to identify progression pathways generated by apprenticeships and communicate these in helpful ways.

 

Recommendation 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.

  • We agree that the commitment statement could play a much more central role in ensuring effective delivery and support by all partners in every apprenticeship and will work with partners including the ESFA and the Quality Alliance to progress this.

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