From education to employment

The apprenticeship service – Current ESFA roadmap

Following on from my last blog and some of the feedback I received, I wanted to share the current delivery roadmap for the apprenticeship service with you. This starts to outline the most significant developments we are currently planning to release over the next year and a half – it is based on today’s priorities and is subject to change as we move further into delivery.

Iterative development – a service that doesn’t stand still

In my last blog I described how we started delivery of the apprenticeship service with a minimum viable service (MVS) earlier this year and how we have extended the service over the last few months hand-in-hand with our users. I want to pick up on this again as it sets the context for our roadmap, as working in this way means that we are always planning and reviewing new functionality as we learn.

We don’t use a ‘big bang’ approach to launching a digital service whereby all the functionality is designed and built and then delivered to users who have had no input around how they might want to use it. That fixed approach runs the massive risk of a service that doesn’t deliver what users actually want or need.

Instead, we work in an agile way, working with our users to understand their needs and then testing new developments with representative groups to check that they can use the service in a way that fits with how they work in their day jobs. This means we are continually reflecting on user feedback and experience and then feeding that into our build teams to create a better user experience – sometimes this looks significantly different from our initial storyboarding!

And that means a service that doesn’t stand still – factors change, new policies are introduced, new users come on-board, experienced users demand more functionality, and technology and what it can achieve is always advancing too.

Latest improvements

Recent releases into the apprenticeship service have all been in response to employer and provider feedback about what additional features they would find useful and which parts of the service they are finding more difficult to align with their day to day business processes.

Some of the latest updates include:

  • enabling employers to see end-point assessment organisations for an apprenticeship standard when they’re looking on Find apprenticeship training, making it easier to contact them about the service they offer and the costs involved
  • an improved process for amending apprentice records
  • employers being able to edit all the apprentice details, including the start date, before a provider submits matching individualised learner record (ILR) data for an apprentice to the ESFA for the first time
  • providers being able to edit an apprentice record right up until the first successful ILR match
  • providers being able to request that the apprenticeship service record mirrors the ILR if a data match failure occurs due to the apprenticeship course and a successful ILR match has not previously been made
  • a new task list feature on the account home page for employers so that activities an employer needs to complete will be visible, with a link to where they need to go to action the task (this has gone live with one task enabled but more task types will be added over time)

April 2018 and beyond

April 2018 will be a significant landmark in the service as from that point, levy-paying employers will be able to transfer up to 10% of their funds to other employers (both levy-payers and those who don’t pay the levy).

We are still working through the finer details underpinning this change and will keep you all updated but for the service it will likely mean new employers becoming users of the service, and it will involve new business and technical processes to make transfers run smoothly.

Following the agile approach, we will be conducting rigorous testing of this with representative samples of users in advance of going live, so I can assure you that lots of behind the scenes work is well underway to bring us to an April launch for transfers. (You can read more about transfers here.)

An ever-evolving apprenticeship service

By sharing our roadmap, we want our users and stakeholders to have sight of our vision for an ever-evolving and improving apprenticeship service, in which we listen intently to our users and work with them to make the service the best that it can be.

Eileen Logie, Deputy Director, ESFA, and the service owner for the apprenticeship service.

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