On the 24th of April, our latest Pathway Pioneers event brought together employers and experts in the field of IT & digital apprenticeships.
Nearly one year on from the Apprenticeship Levy, the focus for both attendees and speakers was clarity around specific aspects of how the Apprenticeship funding and training works in practice.
Richard Lambden, Programme Director for Skills Team, spoke on recent updates within the apprenticeships sector, including the recent clarification surrounding the 10% transfer facility.
This 10% transfer facility is a recent development from the ESFA, allowing levy payers to transfer 10% of their levy funds to another organisation. However, they can only pay this to one organisation, with the money transferred on a monthly basis. This presents an opportunity for organisations to collaborate with other businesses, either in their supply chain or entirely separate. This option will be available to all levy payers from the end of May 2018.
Richard also spoke about the updates to the Employer Agreement, which organisations seeking apprentices must sign and agree to in order to access their Apprenticeship Service Account.
For more information on the 10% Levy Transfer rule, the ESFA have produced a helpful guide with additional resources, which can be found here.
Finally, Richard clarified the definition of the 20% off the job training, despite the challenges some organisations have faced with this aspect of the programmes. The 20% training must directly relate to the apprentices’ framework, and focus on providing new knowledge, skills and behaviours.
Holiday hours can’t contribute to the 20% training time, and this must be completed within work hours, and in proportion to the employee’s regular working hours.
John Pritchard, Head of Apprenticeships at BCS, gave advice on how to ensure success for apprentices undergoing their End-Point Assessment (EPA).
He opened by noting that so far, BCS have completed 154 EPA’s under the new system, with 136 currently pending.
The process of the EPA includes reviewing the apprentices’ certifications for individual modules within their pathway, uploading their portfolio of work completed across the apprenticeship, as well as a final interview discussing the portfolio and the apprenticeship as a whole.
For BCS, the focus has been on providing an efficient and convenient review process, without sacrificing the quality of their assessments. One way this has been achieved is by conducting the interview stage remotely through the video calls. As a result of this, BCS provide apprentices with a provisional grade within 48 hours of their EPA interview, and a final grade within 5 working days of this.
For employers with multiple apprentices nearing the end of their programme, BCS allow them to stagger the EPA’s of their staff to minimise the loss of working capacity. So, if an employer has 8 apprentices currently on programme, 2 could complete their EPA each week for 4 weeks.
The focus of John’s advice for employers was to ensure that apprentices are given enough time to prepare for the EPA – beginning as far as 6-11 weeks in advance of the assessment depending on their pathway. Ensure that the summative portfolio includes the apprentices’ strongest work, and that the internal EPA review is thoroughly conducted by the apprentices’ manager throughout the programme, rather than retroactively at the end of the programme.
Finally, Jake Tween, Head of Apprenticeships at ILM, spoke about the benefits of using Apprenticeships for workforce development.
Jake drew attention to a recent study conducted by ILM surveying employers and decision makers on the perception of apprenticeships, and the changes the levy has brought. 58% of employers surveyed didn’t think that mid-senior level managers wanted to be perceived as “apprentices” highlighting the perception that apprenticeships are in some way a junior qualification.
One way that ILM have seen success responding to this, is by engaging those interested in an apprenticeship, and clearly highlighting the benefits, aims and certifications of various apprenticeship programmes, and the positive impact completion would have on the individuals’ future career, as well as their current role. This approach, Jake explained, helps to assure the prospective apprentice of the value of the programme, and encourages them to engage with the opportunity.
Another way to combat the problem of engagement is to ‘lead by example’ and in Jake’s words “use apprenticeships as a vehicle towards professional qualification”. By engaging with senior staff and enrolling them on an apprenticeship programme, other staff within the company are much more likely to also enrol.
The event was a great success, providing useful resources and information for all attendee’s. If you have any further concerns or questions surrounding apprenticeships, 20% off the job training, or the 10% transfer rule, please get in touch with our Employer Relationship team on 020 7426 9835.