Since the introduction of End Point Assessment (EPA), apprenticeships in England have changed for good. Yet when it comes to the fundamentals, there may appear to be little difference.
Your apprentice still takes half a day each week for training, as before. They still complete coursework, and still find new and interesting ways to tie work projects into their education.
If you’ve managed apprentices before it all feels very familiar – yet EPA differs in significant ways:
- Learners are no longer graded as they learn, instead facing a series of assessments at the end of their training.
- A learner can only be put forward for EPA if they are considered ready by both their employer and training provider.
- This assessment must take place within three months of the learner completing their training.
- A learner cannot be assessed by their training provider; assessment must be completed by an approved, independent third party – the End Point Assessment Organisation.
Why Have Apprenticeships Changed?
Under the Frameworks system training providers would assess an apprentice’s competency at linear intervals. Yet many employers found that this system created a gap between what the apprentice should have known, as per the framework, and what they actually knew once qualified.
End Point Assessment helps to close that gap by renewing the focus on occupational competency.
Introducing the End Point Assessment Organisation
An End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) is an ESFA-approved, independent third-party that carries out End Point Assessments. These assessments determine whether your apprentice has the skills, knowledge and behaviours required by the Standard.
Without getting into the details, many training providers suggest that you have no need to engage with your EPAO until your apprentice has reached Gateway. This is the stage at which you and your training provider agree that your learner is ready for assessment.
Yet with over 155,200 learners starting apprenticeship standards over the last year alone, and with just 236 approved EPAOs available to cover every English apprenticeship, it’s easy to see how leaving everything until the last minute will create problems – and the transition has already caused difficulties.
We’ve spoken to several employers who have reported that their own EPAO has been unable to schedule assessors within the three-month window – thus leaving their learners in limbo.
It’s frustrating for all involved and means that your apprentice is unable to complete their training through no fault of their own.
That’s not the way that you would want it to go. Since working with an EPAO is a necessity of the apprenticeship process how can you make the most of the relationship?
Putting Your Experience First
While many EPAOs will go in ‘cold’ and simply turn up on the assessment date, there are solutions that provide a greater degree of value and security. Our own End Point Assessment service is one such solution.
We know that it’s not your priority to understand every step of your apprentice’s learning – you simply need to know that their progress is on track.
To help you with this we offer Assessment Edge, an exclusive cutting-edge tool that enables you to track your learner’s development against the Standard. It’s a powerful piece of software that gives you full visibility on your apprentice’s development.
And that’s not all. We partner Assessment Edge with Apprentice LMS, a cloud-based portal that allows your apprentice to manage their own learning. It’s a combined suite designed to give you total confidence in your learner’s knowledge, skills and behaviour.
The sooner you use our tools, the greater the value – and not just because of the tangible performance benefits. By engaging your EPAO early you can ensure that your learners are registered and ready to go from the moment they hit Gateway.
Your choice of End Point Assessment Organisation will determine the apprenticeship experience that you and your learner have. For that reason, we suggest choosing an EPAO that puts your experience first.
Just starting the apprenticeship process? Make the most of the opportunity. Find out more about our End Point Assessment service today.