The Future of Apprenticeships in England: Next Steps from the Richard Review

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1 The Future of Apprenticeships in England: Next Steps from the Richard Review Section 10: Questions Question 1: How can we ensure that every Apprenticeship delivers substantial new skills? Apprenticeships should be for those new to the workplace and for those who are moving into a new role this will ensure the acquisition of new skills during an apprenticeship. Feedback from science employers supports the idea of frameworks designed by employers. This will allow employers to develop rigorous Apprenticeship Training Plans and enable the job role to be fulfilled around a national standard for the occupation. Apprenticeship Training Plans of this type will ensure the acquisition of relevant up to date skills and ensure employers are fully integrated in apprenticeship training. There should be specific entry requirements for the apprenticeship, and progression should be clearly identified in the training plan. Question 2: How should we invite and enable employers to come together to design new standards for Apprenticeships? Employers have already expressed a desire to come together through a Science Industry Partnership (SIP), which will target skills development across the whole scientific workforce. The SIP, owned and led by employers from the science industries, will incorporate employer working groups to design and ensure the delivery of quality apprenticeships - for the benefit of employers and apprentices. Employers leading the development of the Partnership have already identified apprenticeships as a priority area. Cogent is working with these employers to develop a SMART apprenticeship which will closely match the Richard Review recommendations. Question 3: What are your views on the proposed criteria for Apprenticeship standards as set out in Section 2 of this document? Apprenticeship standards should be set by employers. Public investment should only be made into those apprenticeships which show demonstrable employer ownership. The proposed criteria outlined in section 2 are a good starting point, but need more clarification. For example, what does stretching mean? In general, standards should allow differing routes to achievement, enabling employers to be at the heart of how apprentices achieve the standard. Professional registration could be a possible outcome, but it should not be mandatory because of the associated costs to the individual. Question 4: Should there be only one standard per Apprentice occupation/job role? This could be possible using a core and options model, sitting alongside a more traditional training standard approach. This would specify a standard and enable achievement of that standard to remain flexible for employers, whilst ensuring high quality. In general, any model must allow

2 flexibility for employers to develop bespoke apprenticeship training plans. These should allow apprentices to better fit job roles, while recognising the importance of multi-skilling and in-house training. Question 5: Should there be only one qualification per standard? The completion of an apprenticeship should be related to clear evidence of the competences required for the occupation. This could be achieved through one qualification, but there should be flexibilities built into the qualification. If we use a training standard approach to enable flexibility - using a core and options model then this could prove helpful. However, the qualification should allow differing forms of assessment for theoretical and practical components. We know from employers that the demonstration of knowledge separately within a qualification is important for progression to higher levels. Question 6: How should we manage the transition from the current system of Apprenticeship frameworks to a new system of employer-designed Apprenticeship standards and qualifications? Employers have indicated to Cogent that the best way of achieving a smooth transition, is through the development of the Science Industry Partnership (as outlined earlier). Current proposals suggest that the SIP will be tested on a pilot basis. This would enable market testing and further development of the SMART Apprenticeship concept. In time, the SIP aims to develop and manage a plan for the transition to full employer ownership of standards and qualifications. Question 7: How can we make sure that the new standards stay relevant to employers, and are not compromised over time? Standards should be time limited and reviewed by employers on a regular basis. Responsibility for this should rest with the employer-led SIP. Public funding should only be used to support training where standards have been set and appropriately reviewed by a partnership of sector-based employers operating through the SIP. The SIP could restrict the number of overarching standards and by working with employers, thereby ensuring that standards are not overly specialised. This will ensure that standards will not be compromised over time. Question 8: How can we ensure that employers are better engaged with the development and oversight of the assessment in Apprenticeships? This process can be managed through an Industrial Partnership. For example, employer expert panels will design the framework standards and develop the assessment criteria. Individual employers would then specify the nature of the assessment as part of the Apprenticeship Training

3 Plan. This would reflect the assessment criteria developed by the SIP. In general, assessment goes hand in hand with setting the standard. Employers would be want to be involved in this because it would secure the skills they require as well as valuable investment from Government. Question 9: How could employers best be involved in the practical delivery of assessment? Employers would sign off the apprentice as competent for the job role in their workplace. This formative assessment would be the responsibility of line managers and supervisors, who would undertake appropriate training and development. The apprentice would undertake an independent assessment of skills and competence, as defined by the standard. This would be carried out by a third party, which would lead to certification as industry competent. The involvement of the SIP would enable these competencies to be recognised across the scientific workforce earning the apprentice a SIP endorsement. The SIP could operate a peer review quality assurance system that offers independent assessment of apprentices. The assessment could be undertaken over a period of time to ensure all aspects of the apprenticeship standard are assessed including skill, knowledge and the application of knowledge. Question 10: How can the independence and consistency of assessment in Apprenticeships be further improved? A rigorous quality assurance system is necessary. This should be owned by employers to ensure they obtain transferability and progression. The vehicle for ensuring quality could be an Industrial Partnership owned quality assurance system. This would ensure the quality of apprenticeships at all stages from design, through delivery (including the development of Apprenticeship Training Plans to achieve the standards and qualification ) to assessment, including the final summative assessment and any informal formative assessments. Aligning apprenticeships to professional standards will lead to further independent scrutiny of the apprenticeship. The professional body can act as an independent and separate body indirectly quality assuring apprenticeships through policing access to its membership. Question 11: How should we implement end point assessment for Apprenticeships? A three-part assessment should be used: 1. Theory assessment - this is in effect the knowledge test/technical certificate ensuring the apprenticeship has the knowledge needed in the science industries 2. Formative assessment - employers certify the apprentice is competent for their role in the workplace

4 3. Final competency assessment done by peer review/independent assessors. This could be done over a period of time to ensure full coverage of the apprenticeship. E.g. a Lab Technician should have the opportunity to demonstrate the full range of competency they have built up covering a number of operations. Question 12: How should we implement grading for Apprenticeship qualifications? For the knowledge assessment component, grading could follow established patterns, e.g. pass, merit, distinction. However, for the competency components, grading should be on the basis of pass or fail. This is because grading competency on a sliding scale may serve to undermine the principle of fully competent. We currently distinguish between intermediate, advanced and higher level apprentices. These distinctions can be tested through the design and development phase of the SIP. Question 13: What are the specific obstacles to all Apprentices achieving level 2 English and maths as part of their Apprenticeship, and how could these be overcome? Level 2 English and Maths are important prerequisites for Science Industry apprenticeships at advanced levels. Employers have told us that it is important that these are obtained either before the commencement of the apprenticeship or during the initial phases of the apprenticeship itself. The obstacles to attainment lie in the way these subjects are taught. It should be recognised that English and Maths for vocational students are different to those designed for academic students. Vocational students should be taught and assessed flexibly to encourage attainment. Schools tend to focus solely on academic achievement in these subjects. Question 14: How would a requirement to have all Apprentices achieve level 2 in English and maths impact on employers, providers and potential learners? What are the risks and potential solutions? For advanced apprentices this would be a positive requirement and it would signal a stretching expectation. However, delivery should be supported by appropriate partners. Employers should not be expected to deliver this themselves. There are Level 2 (intermediate) apprenticeships which may not require Level 2 English and Maths to be achieved. This requirement could be a barrier to employment for some young people. In these cases, it should be an aspiration rather than a requirement. Consideration should be given to a more flexible pattern of achievement. E.g. it may be sufficient for some occupations to require Level 2 Maths and Level 1 English.

5 Question 15: What further steps, by government or others, could encourage greater diversity and innovation in training delivery to help Apprentices reach the standards that employers have set? Placing the purchasing power with employers will create a diversity of solutions and encourage innovation to be incorporated in Apprenticeship Training Plans. It will also drive greater value for money. Employers in the science sector strongly support a model where funding flows through employers who then commission providers and partners to deliver relevant solutions. In some instances, employer in-house training should be incorporated in the Apprenticeship Training Plan to achieve the standard. This is increasingly the case for some more advanced technology sectors, where no specialist providers are in place. Question 16: What approach would work best to ensure Apprentices benefit from time to train and reflect away from their day to day workplace? All Apprenticeship Training Plans should have time away from the work place as a mandatory component. This would enable the apprentice to see the wider world and benefit form networking with other apprentices and to develop an apprenticeship learning ethic. Away from the workplace activities can be used to build team working and confidence in young people and can be built into an Apprentice Training Plan. These aspects should not be mandatory but should be aligned to employers needs. Question 17: Should off-site learning be made mandatory? The term off-site learning is an unhelpful label. Instead, apprenticeship standards should refer to off the job training. This is because off the job learning is often facilitated on- site, E.g. an on-site classroom or distance learning facilities. Employers should evidence time off the job as part of the Apprenticeship Training Plan. Off-site learning should therefore not be mandatory, but some form of off-the job training should be mandatory. Question 18: How can the process for approving training providers be improved, to help employers find high quality, relevant training? The SIP could create a network of approved providers. This could follow the model already established by the Centre for the Process Industries in the North East. This network provides a centre of excellence for employers. Here, industry approved providers use sector specific criteria set by employers, alongside the generic criteria used by Ofsted.

6 Question 19: Do you believe that a kitemarking scheme for your sector or profession would add value and be supported? Yes the intention is for the SIP to provide a SIP endorsement for apprenticeships and other industry valued training activity. SIP endorsements will be separate from existing kitemarking schemes, but will recognise the value of any current kitemarking awards. Question 20: What more can government do to facilitate effective third party/external use of its data to better inform individuals and employers about Apprenticeships? We have found that science employers are particularly interested in data relating to the true cost and rate of return of apprenticeships. Information here can help overcome incorrect perceptions and concerns particularly by SMEs. Robust, statistical data would strengthen other activity. Question 21: What approaches are effective to inform young people and their parents about the opportunities provided by an Apprenticeship? There are concerns regarding the careers service for school age young people. There is a disincentive for schools to provide effective apprentice careers advice for their best pupils and the service schools provide appears to be ineffective. There should be mandatory careers input to schools by independent apprenticeship advisors. A continuing national campaign should be funded to promote the opportunities of apprenticeships to rebalance the current bias towards Higher Education. This campaign should use the full range of IT/social networking opportunities to spread the message. Question 22: How can we support employers to engage with learners of all ages to provide information about Apprenticeship opportunities? Employers from the science sector support the development of Traineeships as a skill pipeline to the industry. Employers should be incentivised to provide practical support to the design and delivery of traineeships as a stepping stone to apprenticeships. For science employers, the importance of attracting STEM students into the sector should not be underestimated. Under the proposals for the SIP, a joint STEM careers approach is being developed with other Industrial Partnerships and skills bodies. It would be helpful to make the apprenticeship vacancy service easier to use specifically to enable employers to feed information into both the careers service and schools.

7 Question 23: Do you consider that the proposals set out in this document would have a positive or negative impact on any group, including those with protected characteristics? Please provide any comments or evidence you have for your answer and set out which aspects of the reforms will impact and how these impacts might be managed. Employers in the science sector would benefit from many of the proposals outlined and in particular are keen to support a move to employer ownership and the benefits that this will bring to apprenticeship design, delivery and assessment. Question 24: Do you have any further comments on the issues in this consultation? No.

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