Construction is one of the most recent sectors to transition from framework to EPA, which has meant that EPAOs and training providers alike have had to adapt to new forms of assessment – and all the admin that entails.
Construction EPA is one of the pioneers in this field, and – thanks to an integrated assessment solution developed alongside risr/ and Skilltech Solutions – it has been the first EPAO to run assessments using the risr/assess software integration within epaPRO.
We talked with Jasmin Lewis, Head of End-Point Assessment at Construction EPA, about the impact that this has had on everyone involved in its ‘all-inclusive’ EPA offer.
Jasmin, could you tell us about Construction EPA?
We’re an independent, Ofqual-regulated End-Point Assessment Organisation focussed on construction apprenticeships. The company was originally set up in 2013 to tackle the skills shortage in Construction. Since inception the company has assessed the competence of over 10,000 Construction workers covering all trades. In 2020 we transitioned the business to solely focus on End Point Assessment.
We started with just two standards. Now, we deliver 25, so we have grown significantly in a short time.
Interestingly, construction was a late bloomer in moving from framework to EPA, so we also make it our business to help training providers and employers understand this new system.
You also have a flagship ‘all-inclusive’ EPA offer – what is that?
In the ‘all-inclusive’ offer our team developed, we provide everything an apprentice needs to complete their journey – including the assessment centre. We have built 5 assessment centres so far with more in development.
In short, training providers can send their apprentices to us, and we provide the tools, materials and equipment for them to do their practical elements, which are a big part of construction apprenticeships.
What is your role as Head of End-Point Assessment?
In essence, I’m responsible for implementing the strategic direction for the company – delivering the opening of new assessment centres, deciding which standards we’ll offer – and what our mission, values and culture are. I am also the responsible officer at Construction EPA Company.
My role has grown as the company has grown – and it has grown significantly.
Is that culture what attracted you to the role?
I used to work with a medium-sized EPAO previously (though one much larger than Construction EPA), so the main appeal was taking an EPAO from its infancy stage and growing it into something much bigger.
Since the company I worked for was Ofqual-recognised, I was also aware of the challenge that lay ahead for Construction EPA – and I thrive on a challenge.
Was compliance with Ofqual standards one of the reasons you started to use epaPRO?
epaPRO certainly helped, but we have actually worked with Skilltech since day one.
The EPAO that I worked with previously also used epaPRO, so I knew it was an end-to-end solution that we could set up and not need to change. It would also mean our training providers wouldn’t have to change either: it’s an easy, one-stop shop for everyone involved.
It’s also such a benefit that the Skilltech team listens and reacts so quickly – a small fix to them makes a big impact on reducing the admin burden for smaller EPAOs.
You must also be familiar with the problems EPAOs face without a solution like epaPRO?
Yes: it just saves manual processes that take up time. It also eliminates the risk of human error that smaller EPAOs have when they work entirely out of spreadsheets – or that larger EPAOs have when processing thousands of apprentices across multiple standards.
epaPRO also helps us meet our compliance responsibilities, too, and since regulators already understand the platform, sharing relevant information with them is seamless.
Moving on, what motivated you to develop the partnership with risr/?
We were having a lot of issues with a previous, overly basic knowledge-test system. It couldn’t keep up with the growth we were experiencing, so we had a lot of firefighting to do. We also wanted a system that could analyse data to the level we wanted to ensure when we are reviewing standards we can be sure they are effective and accessible to all.
We needed to future-proof the business with a software solution with better processes for administering different types of online tests. We also needed a team that understood us as a smaller EPAO, and one that would grow with us.
We found out about risr/ through Ian at Skilltech. After careful consideration of those aims, we chose them.
By now, you’ve delivered your first tests entirely with risr/. How has that gone?
We’ve been running tests for a month now using the risr/ platform, and the benefits for apprentices are remarkable. It’s such a versatile platform for testing.
The platform lets us set up different types of tests in terms of their format, how images are displayed and any ‘reasonable adjustments’ for dyslexia or visual impairments (which Ofqual requires).
The feedback from apprentices has been so positive in terms of how user-friendly, responsive and clear it is – all of which, at the end of the day, lets them focus on the exam.
The more tools you can give them to reduce nerves, the better.
How have you found working with risr/ and Skilltech on this project?
It was a project with a very tight schedule. Both Skilltech and risr/ were understanding and responsive, and they took the time to understand our business and our drivers. They came to our Head Office for a mass discussion and Q&A session, and they’re beyond approachable and hands-on.
What we agreed, we’ve achieved. Of course, there were challenges, but once we were speaking the same language, we got fully up and running.
Even now, the risr/ and Skilltech team are continually asking ‘how can we do this better?’ Even if it’s something as small as a button change, they’re so reactive to our needs.
We would like to thank Jasmin for her time.
Are you an epaPRO user? Stay tuned to our blog and product updates for more information about the risr/ assessment integrations making their way to epaPRO very soon.
Interested in seeing epaPRO for yourself? It’s a one-stop shop for end-point assessment management that empowers you to streamline apprentice journeys and deliver an even better EPAO service. Simply book a demo or message email@example.com to learn how it can work for your EPAO.