end point assessments

Outlook for 2023: Skilltech opinions

Between the merry-go-round of Education Secretaries and the vast underspend in the sector as a whole, it’s fair to say that 2022 was an exciting year for apprenticeships. Now that the landscape seems to have settled back into some normality, we can start to plan and make predictions for the year ahead.

Skilltech Solutions has high hopes for 2023, and we have listed 4 things we hope to see change as the year progresses. 

Quality over quantity 

48% of all apprentices who begin a standard subsequently abandon it before completion. A shocking statistic. There is a multitude of reasons, but the most common was due to lack of quality. While there are many exceptional apprenticeships available, and boasting high scores in standard completions, there is still a swathe that is contributing to the perception of ‘lower-grade’ education. 

As the government begins to tighten the leash on standards and quality of learning, we should start to see some low-quality apprenticeships be phased out and stopped altogether. Of course, it can be difficult to pinpoint what constitutes ‘poor levels’ of learning and training, however as the new criteria for creating a standard is introduced, this will shine a light on those that are flying under the radar. 

Efficient assessments 

As mentioned, there are multiple reasons for apprentices dropping out of their standard before the end point assessment. Another is the chance to work. 

Many apprenticeships, like care workers or electricians, require a qualification assessment - a mandatory test that they must pass to apply for roles in their chosen field. 

There have been reports of some apprentices leaving their standard once they pass this mandatory qualification before completing their end-point assessment. The IfATE has plans to blend the two assessments - minimising the chance for over-assessment and closing the loophole.  

By implementing this change, we’ll no doubt see the dropout rate decrease, but it cannot be solved completely without turning our attention to quality control. 

A learner-focused approach

The expectation is that learners are to engage directly with their assessor as they reach gateway, however, in a survey conducted in 2020, 38% of apprentices did not know who their end point assessment organisation was.  

Not only are they in the dark about this, but some are unaware of what their apprentice entails as a whole. This mindset of secrecy is due to apprentices being seen as workers instead of learners by employers. As apprentices must be paid a wage for their time in the workplace, some employers promote that financial loss over providing the education they advertised. 

This is particularly common in the tattoo industry. Rather than learning the skills to become an artist, apprentices are cleaning, managing phone calls, and running social media accounts. There was backlash over an apprenticeship advertisement that detailed this very situation whilst being unpaid. How can this help apprentices gain skills? 

By switching focus and encouraging behavioural changes to include apprentices in their educational journey, the sector can get a true vision of the learner experience, and improve it for the future. 

Stop the misuse of the apprenticeship brand  

A report from think tank EDSK found that the word ‘apprenticeship’ and the calibre of training that should be associated with the word have been widely misused and abused by employers and learning providers alike. 

Whether they are disguising low-wage jobs as learning opportunities or creating a standard that does not cover a real and specific skilled occupation - instead just a banquet course with no real meaning or training involved that employers expect - potential learners are discovering that their time and resources have been wasted. 

Learning in the workplace is a valuable form of education, so its reputation must not be destroyed from within the sector. 

The end point assessment is one part of the whole apprenticeship journey, so improvements and changes must come from all segments to improve the quality of education for learners. This is the biggest change we hope to see in 2023, and should motions start to be put in place, we know it will only make the sector stronger and be seen as the viable educational pathway we on the inside know it to be. 

Better management is part of that change; do you manage your apprentices as efficiently as you could be? Discover more about epaPRO and how it can help you maximise your time.

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