Assessment businesses have to fulfil strict criteria before being recognised as apprenticeship end point assessment organisations. The first step is to apply for entry onto the register of end point assessment organisations, a government-managed database that is consulted by employers and training providers when seeking out an EPAO. After this, the EPAO can advertise their readiness and capability to conduct EPAs in one or more apprenticeship standards.
Changes In Apprenticeship Standards
The growth in the variety and depth of apprenticeship standards over the past few years offer well-equipped EPAOs the chance to grow and expand into new market fields. There is a distinct shortage of qualified EPAOs for many of these new apprenticeship standards. In July 2019, 130 standards lacked a suitable assessor to carry out their apprenticeship end point assessments, and over 40% of these standards already had apprentices enrolled.
The change of rules in late 2019 means this situation is no longer possible. ESFA funding is now only available for apprenticeship standards that have a confirmed EPAO in place, or where there is a ‘confirmation in principle’ to conduct the EPA. This gives end point assessment organisations greater involvement in the EPA process from an earlier stage, but also places greater pressure on them to demonstrate their ability to deliver effective assessments that fulfil the criteria of the apprenticeship standards.
In this developing environment for apprenticeships – and the long-term impact of Covid on the practicalities of end point assessments is yet to be seen – businesses considering becoming a registered EPAO should consider the following points:
1) Know Your Market
Research the apprenticeship standards you’re interested in assessing and understand the details of each standard, including current EPAOs (if applicable), funding bands, quality assurance providers, EPA/apprentice numbers etc. This information can be found through the ESFA or the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education (IATE). You should also take the opportunity to analyse your competitors, including the strengths and weaknesses of other EPAOs, and the software and tools they use.
2) Understand Funding Sources
The second stage of market research is to identify the sources of funding available, including the level of ESFA financial support, and compare this to the capital investment required to deliver EPAs. This will give you a projected ROI for each of the apprenticeship standards you’re interested in.
3) Invest In The Right Software, Staff, And Training Infrastructure
You should already have the tools, staff, policies, and procedures in place before you apply to become an EPAO. We recommend investing in a comprehensive end point assessment software solution, such as EPA Pro, which includes all the tools you need to manage and conduct EPAs.
4) Demonstrate Competence
The purpose of your infrastructure investments is to demonstrate the competence of your organisation to deliver EPAs for your chosen apprenticeship standards. This occupational competence should be current and up-to-date, and include a full understanding of the marketplace, and the objectives of training.
5) Minimum Organisational Requirements
To become an end point assessment organisation, your business must have been trading for at least three months, have public liability and professional indemnity insurance in place, and be registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Beyond this, you should have transparent procedures and policies that guarantee effective service delivery and quality assurance, and a commitment to continual improvement. These policies should cover your recruitment and training policies, certifications, monitoring and feedback procedures, fair access policies, and data protection.
It is essential that EPAOs can demonstrate their independence and impartiality by having sound conflict-of-interest procedures in place. EPAOs must remain distinct from training providers and cannot assess people that they have trained.
Before applying to the register of end point organisations, you should be prepared to demonstrate your readiness to conduct endpoint assessment within 12 months of registration.
End point assessments are becoming a competitive marketplace, with many opportunities for businesses that come equipped with the right tools, software, and service delivery capabilities. To find out how EPA Pro can increase your ROI and improve your chances of successfully being chosen for apprenticeship assessments, please get in touch with one of our Edtech experts today.
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