The events of 2020 and 2021 have created a challenging environment for apprenticeships and end-point assessments. With most workplaces and all colleges forced to physically close during the 2020 spring/summer lockdown, plans for thousands of apprenticeship end-point assessments (EPAs) had to be changed. Some providers were able to move their EPAs online, but unless the EPAO had the technology in place to allow the apprentice a fair assessment remotely, the EPA simply couldn’t take place.
If nothing else, the pandemic has highlighted the need for increased digitisation of EPAs, in which specialist end-point assessment software has a significant role to play. These are the five challenges we believe apprenticeship end-point assessments are likely to face over the coming years to accommodate remote assessments and prevent delays.
1) Technological Challenges
For an apprentice to have a fair assessment, they must have the technology and tools to hand to do their job. By nature, these requirements are drastically different for an engineering apprentice, a childcare apprentice, an admin apprentice, and a chef’s apprentice. Protocols and standards must be drawn up that accurately reflects the apprentice’s ability in their role, even when taking their assessment remotely. End-point assessment organisations have a role to play, by providing employers and training providers with the software infrastructure to enable collaboration and assessments to occur remotely. This starts with a shared environment that is accessible from all devices.
2) Environmental Challenges
Most apprenticeship assessments in an appropriate work environment, but this is not always possible in a typical lockdown household, where the apprentice may need to combine their assessment with childcare responsibilities, home schooling for younger siblings, and shared living space with housemates who may also be working from home. For some apprentices these difficulties may be insurmountable, but in many cases training providers can work with apprentices to provide practical workarounds – such as advice on communicating with housemates and family members in order to accommodate their needs.
3) Fair Assessment Challenges
EPA assessments from home require special attention to ensure that the assessment is fair. In workplace assessments, an invigilator normally performs a check of the physical environment and ensures that only the permitted notes and devices are bought into the assessment. For this to happen at home, the software has to be available (compatible with mobile devices) to allow a 360° video survey of the assessment environment. By using a specialist application, the invigilator can request information from the apprentice and clarify the rules of the assessment, to avoid the risk of cheating.
4) Communication Challenges
Remote real-time assessments are typically conducted through video link, using a tool such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Communication and accountability can both be improved by using an online meeting tool integrated with EPA software. This allows video interviews and live assessments to be recorded as part of the apprentices’ evidence file. By having a record of all communications within a single EPA software interface, the chance of misunderstandings and miscommunication is minimised. It could also save assessors and clients time by avoiding the need to upload different audio and video file formats to the learner’s assessment file.
5) Training Challenges
Remote EPA assessments pose a new challenge to all relevant stakeholders involved in the assessment process as much as it does to apprentices. Ensuring that assessors have up-to-date knowledge is essential for apprentices to have a fair assessment. Using an innovative EPA software solution, such as EPA Pro, provides an intuitive interface for assessors that takes very little time to become familiar with. This reduces the likelihood of mistakes, and also saves EPAOs time and money on training.
Remote apprenticeship assessments are new territory for most providers and employers, and the past few months have seen many teething troubles as organisations struggle to put workarounds in place. However, the latest generation of edtech, including EPA software, has the potential to reduce difficulties and ensure learning can continue even during lockdowns and social distancing. To find out more about EPA Pro and how it can benefit your assessors and customers, please give us a call today.
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