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Transform the skills landscape in England

Skills and Employability Forum in London

Sir Gerry Berragan, Chief Executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute), spoke to – and met with – delegates at the Skills and Employability Forum in London. His speech addressed four key issues:

1. Supporting learners from a diverse background and education to learn new skills: “Our mission at the Institute is to ‘improve access to high-quality apprenticeships and technical education, in order to transform the skills landscape in England’.

“We are continually alert to the risks of creating additional barriers to learning or attainment in what we publish, and this is under constant review and scrutiny in our approvals process.

“We are doing more to ensure that Trailblazer groups [of employers who develop new apprenticeships] themselves are as diverse as possible, which we believe will ensure what they create takes into account the widest range of perspectives.

“We are also using a ‘gender neutral’ language approach, that is not only assisting in ensuring standards are appealing to both men and women, but which is also encouraging Trailblazers to think harder about the implications of language choice in other areas.”

2. Increasing the quality of apprenticeships and End Point Assessments (EPAs): Quality is fundamental to us. Central to ensuring the overall quality of apprenticeships is ensuring that the EPA an apprentice completes at the end of their apprenticeship is a relevant and robust test of occupational competence.

“We aim to ensure that completing an apprenticeship not only provides recognition that apprentices have undertaken a rigorous training programme and independent assessment; but more importantly, that they have acquired a satisfactory level of relevant occupational competence, as defined and recognised by employers in their industry.

“Pivotal to our role is ensuring that every apprentice goes through a reliable EPA that is trusted by employers as a relevant test of the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to operate effectively in their chosen occupation.”

3. Looking next at ensuring the success of the first wave of T Levels: “Though the timetable for Wave 1 is tight, we are currently on track for completion by next Spring and for the first teaching date of September 2020 [of the first 3 T Levels].

“The Wave 1 T Level contracts were awarded in January this year and the technical qualifications are currently being developed for delivery in Sept 2020.

“Similarly, Wave 2 T levels [the next 7 T Levels] are on track for delivery in 2021.

4. Improving the transparency and the affordability of apprenticeship programmes: “The Institute is improving our funding band recommendation process for apprenticeship standards.

“Our aim is to have a funding process that is clear, easy-to-understand and draws on the best available evidence. In May 2019, we rolled out the first phase of these improvements – a series of updates to improve the transparency of the current funding band recommendation process, by making it clearer and easier to understand.

“These included replacing the opaque “initial funding band” with clear, early information about likely funding levels. These subtle but significant changes have been welcomed by employers and training providers.

“We are now in the second phase where we intend to make much more substantial changes to the way we generate funding band recommendations.”

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9 July 2024

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