Apprenticeship Reform (England)

Apprenticeships in England are changing

Apprenticeships in England are in the process of significant reform. The Apprenticeship reform aims to build on the success of the current Apprenticeship programme by putting more power into the hands of employers, increasing the flexibility of delivery and simplifying the funding systems.

Cat Solutions welcomes the apprenticeship reforms. We are committed to supporting employers navigate their way through the new apprenticeship system and helping employers and apprentices get the most out of the new flexibilities inherent in the new Apprenticeship system.

What are the key changes?

There are a number of important changes:

  1. New Trailblazer Apprenticeship replacing the SASE Framework;
  2. Introduction of Gateway, End-Point Assessment & Grading;
  3. Reforms to funding and the Apprenticeship Levy;
  4. New Register of Approved Training Providers (RoATP).

1. New Trailblazer Apprenticeship replacing the SASE Framework

A key feature of the new system is that employers work together to design new standards and assessments for apprenticeships to ensure Apprenticeships are higher quality and more relevant to their industry.

Each occupation will now have its own new Apprenticeship Standard linked to a specific occupational level. Each standard covers a specific job role and sets out the core skills, knowledge and behaviours an apprentice will need to be fully competent in their job role and meet the needs of employers in the sector.

These new apprenticeships are known as ‘Trailblazer’ apprenticeships and will replace the old Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England (SASE) Frameworks.

A number of Standards have been approved for delivery in some sectors. At present, therefore, there is a cross-over period in some sectors where the new Trailblazer standards are being delivered alongside the old SASE frameworks. Once a new standard is in place, the outdated framework which it replaces will be discontinued. The full switchover to the new Trailblazer apprenticeships is expected to occur by 2020, but this date is subject to change.

The new Trailblazer apprenticeships which are defined by these new Standards are rigorous, challenging and require the apprentice to undertake a minimum of one year’s training. Standards are higher quality and hence more expensive to deliver. This is recognised in the new funding system by allocated higher funding bands to apprenticeship standards relevant to equivalent frameworks, where appropriate.

Individual Standards can be underpinned by National Occupational Standards (NOS). This decision is made as the Standard is being developed by the Trailblazer group. When a Standard follows NOS, it’s likely that it will be similar in content and delivery to the SASE Framework which it replaces.

Trailblazer Standards Approved for Delivery

It is expected there will be between 600-800 new apprenticeship standards, compared to the current 250 SASE frameworks.
As at 22 December 2016, a total of 157 standards have been approved for delivery across a number of sectors. These are the standards approved for employers and training providers to use.

See the complete List of Apprenticeships Standards Approved for Delivery

Each Trailblazer apprenticeships that has been approved for delivery has two key documents:

  • The Standard – a two page document which outlines the occupational profile and skills, knowledge and behaviours required to perform in that role; and
  • The Assessment Plan – which gives details about what will be included in the End-Point Assessment and the grading methodology that will be used.

Trailblazer Standards in Development

As at 16 December 2016, 204 Standards are in development, across sectors. Once a standard has been developed and received ministerial approval, it will be published on the List of Apprenticeship Standards Approved for Delivery.

See the complete List of Apprenticeship Standards in Development

Trailblazer Standards Approved for Delivery and in Development – Construction Sector

Traditional apprenticeship SASE frameworks are still being delivered in the construction sector.

As at 22 December 2016, 2 standards have been approved for delivery in the construction sector:

  • Construction – Highway Electrican/Service Operator, Level 3
    Construction – Highway Electrical- Maintenance and Installation, Level 2.

However, a greater number of construction standards are in development:

  • Construction – Bricklayer
  • Construction – shop fitting level 3
  • Construction – plant hire desk controller
  • Construction – industrial coating applicator
  • Construction – form worker
  • Construction – roofer
  • Construction – geospatial survey technician
  • Construction –geospatial mapping and science
  • Construction – facilities manager
  • Construction – floorcoverings
  • Construction (Steelwork) – metal decking installer.
Trailblazer Standards Approved for Delivery and in Development – Leadership and Management Sector

There are 3 Standards approved for delivery in Leadership and Management:

  • Leadership and Management – Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship – Level 6
  • Leadership and Management – Operations/Departmental Manager – Level 5
  • Leadership and Management – Team Leader/Supervisor – Level 3.

In development:

  • Leadership and Management – Senior Leader.

The new apprenticeship standards will only be applicable in England.

2. Introduction of Gateway, End-Point Assessment & Grading

There are a number of important differences between apprenticeship frameworks and the new apprenticeship standards:

  • towards the end of the apprenticeship, employers and providers will ‘sign-off’ the apprentice as ready for the end-point assessment; this sign-off is referred to as the ‘Gateway’. Signing-off an apprentice indicates the employer and provider believe their knowledge, skills and behaviours are at the level required to attain an apprenticeship;
  • all apprentices need to pass an end-point assessment. This is separate to any qualifications and assessment that the apprentice may undertake during training. End-point assessment is the new way of assuring quality in the apprenticeship system and replaces the existing model of continuous assessment resulting in qualifications. Qualifications can be built into a standard by the trailblazer group developing the standard (either as a recommendation or mandatory requirement) but completion and achievement of qualifications does not result in the achievement of a Trailblazer apprenticeship. It is the end-point assessment that determines overall competency and achievement;
  • apprentices in the majority of sectors will be graded. A pass grade means that the apprentice has demonstrated full competency against the standard. There are also higher grades (Merit, Distinction) to recognise higher levels of performance;
  • apprentices develop behaviours, as well as knowledge and skills – these are outlined in the Standard, detailed in the assessment plan and contribute to the end-point assessment outcome and grade.

The introduction of independent end-point assessment is one of the biggest changes in the Government’s Apprenticeship Reforms. Each Trailblazer apprenticeships has an Assessment Plan which gives details about the requirements, and the assessment methods to be used, for the end-point assessment. A number of approaches are being used for the end-point assessment, including: knowledge tests, competency-based interviews, assessment of portfolios of evidence and professional discussions. The assessment plan will specify the approach for each standard.

Who will deliver the end-point assessment?

To ensure independence, the end-point assessment must involve a third party, independent of the training provider or employer, who does not stand to benefit financially from the outcome of the assessment.

The Register of Apprenticeship Assessment Organisations (RoAAO) was established in 2016. This lists the organisations that have been assessed as being suitable to conduct independent end-point assessment. Individual employers have the freedom to select their own training provider from the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) and Apprentice Assessment Organisation (AAO) from the Register of Apprenticeship Assessment Organisations.

Two of CAT Solutions accredited bodies – City & Guilds and ILM – are registered Apprenticeship Assessment Organisations for a number of Apprenticeship Standards which CAT Solutions offers.

How much will end-point assessment cost?

The cost of end-point assessment will vary depending on the requirements set out by the Trailblazer group in the Assessment Plan and hence will be costed individually based on the specific assessment tools and methods needed.

An important element of the costing for end-point assessments is the type of occupation and the time taken by the independent assessor in face-to-face, telephone or online assessment activity.

As a general guideline, it is expected that cost will represent no more than 15% of the total costs of delivering the apprenticeship.

3. Funding Reform and the Apprenticeship Levy

In Spring 2017, the way the government funds apprenticeships in England is changing. Some employers will be required to contribute to a new apprenticeship levy and there will be changes to the funding for apprenticeship training for all employers.

The apprenticeship levy will be introduced on 6 April 2017. The levy requires all employers operating in the UK, with a pay bill over £3 million each year, to pay 0.5% of their total pay bill into the apprenticeship levy. SMEs will continue to be funded by provider allocations. From 2020, it is anticipated that non-levy-paying employers will receive funding directly in the same way as levy-paying employers.

No SFA contracts to fund apprenticeships for levy-paying employers from May 2017

The implication is that, from May 2017, providers will no longer have contracts with the SFA and receive direct allocations to fund apprenticeship programmes (Trailblazer apprenticeships or SASE Frameworks) for levy-paying employers. Rather, levy-paying employers will decide for themselves which training provider they want to work with and will negotiate the costs of delivering apprenticeships (including the cost of end-point assessment) directly with the training provide. Levy-paying employers will make virtual payment to providers through the new Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS).

There will still be SFA contracts to provide training to non-levy payers in 2017-18.This, however, is expected to be a one-off as all employers are expected to be using the Digital Apprenticeship Service and/or working directly with training providers by 2018 (although the SFA have reserved the right to change this date if required).

The SFA carried out a procurement process in October 2016 for contracts to deliver apprenticeships to non-levied employers in 2017/18.

How does the apprenticeship levy work?

The Government has published detailed guidance on how the apprenticeship levy will work

How will apprenticeship funding for employers work?

On 12 August 2016, the government released its proposals for apprenticeship funding from May 2017.

This document explains how the apprenticeship funding will work. It is gives details of:

  • the funding bands – how much employers will be able to spend on each apprenticeship;
  • the rules employers will need to follow.
Key Points include:
  • Non-levy paying employers will co-invest with the government to pay for apprenticeships (SASE Frameworks and new Standards). Employers will co-invest 10% and government will contribute 90%. The same model will apply to levy-payers who have exhausted their funds;
  • The new apprenticeship funding system will be made up of 15 bands, with the upper limit of those bands ranging from £1,500 to £27,000. All existing and new apprenticeship frameworks and Standards will be allocated to the nearest funding band based on the current rate of funding. This single funding band will be regardless of the ages of the learner, or geographic location;
  • The government will fund 100% of the cost of apprenticeship training for a 16-18 year old for businesses with fewer than 50 employees;
  • All employers will receive an incentive payment of £1000 for employing a 16-18 year old apprentice. The training provider will also receive an incentive payment of £1000 for delivering apprenticeship training for a 16-18 year old;
  • All organisations who wish to play a role in apprenticeship delivery must be listed on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers. This includes subcontractors;
  • Maths & English at Level 1 and 2 will continue to be funded at £471 per qualification, where needed in an apprenticeship.

What is the Digital Apprenticeship Service?

The Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) is an online portal that will enable levy-paying employers to have an account which will show the amount of funding they have to spend on apprenticeships and which they can use to make virtual payments to their apprenticeship providers.

The portal will also provide employers with details on all providers offering the apprenticeships they are interested in, allowing employers to approach preferred providers and negotiate prices for the services to be delivered for the apprenticeship training and end-point assessment.


4. New Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP)

As part of the reforms, a new Register of Apprenticeship Assessment Organisations (RoATP) has been established which will list the organisations that have been assessed as being suitable to deliver Apprenticeship frameworks or standards. The RoATP opened for applications for the first time in October 2016.

From 1 May 2017, any organisation which wants to deliver apprenticeships must be listed on this new Register. This applies irrespective of whether a provider is delivering apprenticeships to levied on non-levied employers.

As part of the application process, providers are required to demonstrate their ability to deliver high quality apprenticeships and their fitness and eligibility to receive public funding. By introduction higher quality requirements for providers, the Government aims to give employers a level of assurance that the providers they are using have the capacity and capability to delivery good quality apprenticeship training. The register is also expected to drive up competition in the provider market, supporting quality and employer choice.

Levied employers will be able to choose a provider from the new RoATP from May 2017. As from May 2017, therefore, will be no SFA contracts for providing training to employers who pay the levy. Employers will contract directly with training providers who they will select from the new Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers.

CAT Solutions has applied to register on the RoATP and is expecting to hear the outcome in March 2017.


Background to the reforms

In 2012, the Review of Apprenticeships in England was commissioned by the Secretary of State for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS). The review aimed at identifying whether apprenticeships delivered the training, qualifications and skills that employers and learners needed.

The resulting report highlighted that a significant number of employers felt current SASE Apprenticeship Frameworks were not fit for industry needs. As a result the Government set about redefining apprenticeships and in October 2013 published: The Future of Apprenticeships in England: Implementation Plan. This sets out the Government’s commitment to an Apprenticeship reform programme built on a fundamental desire to put employers in the driving seat of developing new Apprenticeship standards.

A key feature of the new system is that Trailblazer employer groups come together – many with the support of sector skills councils, professional bodies, and trade bodies – to create new Apprenticeship standards and associated assessment approaches across a wide range of sectors and occupations.