Apprenticeships are rapidly growing in popularity among the young population as funding for these programmes becomes widely accessible, especially in the United Kingdom.
According to the House of Commons Library, in 2017/18, there were 814,800 people participating in an apprenticeship in England alone, highlighting just how many businesses across the country are taking the time to train young, talented individuals.
In order to achieve their qualifications in their chosen field, apprentices now have to complete what is known as an End Point Assessment (EPA), whereby they are required to showcase the skills they have learnt and prove that they are capable of working in a way that is aligned to specific industry standards.
It is therefore essential that employers are training their apprentices in a way that will help them to succeed when the time comes for them to put their practice into action.
So, how does an End Point Assessment work? And how can businesses prepare for it?
What is an End Point Assessment?
Following the 2013 government-commissioned Richard Review, it was agreed that apprentices would need to undertake an external test that accurately reflected their capabilities, and thus the End Point Assessment was introduced.
An End Point Assessment is the final stage for an apprentice to ensure that they can do the job they have been preparing for. It can only be undertaken a minimum of 12 months after an individual has begun their training, and is necessary for any apprentice to complete their course.
The format, cost and required criteria of an End Point Assessment will vary depending on the professional industry it is based on; however, there are a number of rules that remain constant. These are:
- An End Point Assessment must be delivered by an ESFA approved independent end-point assessment organisation with no affiliation to the employer or training provider involved in the apprenticeship.
- EPAs will typically be graded based on performance.
- Apprentices cannot achieve their qualification(s) without passing an End Point Assessment.
- It must include a minimum of two distinct assessment methods including practical tests, examinations, portfolios, or assignments.
How can businesses prepare their employees?
Businesses in different industries will adopt varying methods in order to train their apprentices effectively. However, one thing that should remain constant is a clear focus towards preparing employees to pass their assessment while developing their skills at the same time.
To ensure that apprentices are ready to take an assessment, employers should be focusing their training programmes on these four core areas:
- Occupational competence
- Judgement and decision making
- Independent working
From the introductory stage, through to their final assessment, care must be taken by employees responsible for the development of apprentices to ensure that they are on the right path to be successful.
Whether this is by taking the time to review the typical criteria relevant to assessments offered by accredited organisations, assessing the quality of specific training programmes or even conducting a skills gap analysis among apprentices both old and new, the end goal should be to prepare these individuals adequately.
MDA Training’s approach to an End Point Assessment
At MDA Training, we help take the complexity out of apprenticeship lifecycle by creating a one-stop-shop for businesses.
By constructing a solution that allows our clients to assess their general processes and later evaluate the success of their apprentices at End Point Assessment, we are able to improve their training programmes long term.
Developing apprentices that are capable of passing their final assessments and ensuring that they are prepared for the demands of the working world will serve to increase employment numbers in specific industries, and will ultimately reflect well on the business, securing a return on investment where training is concerned.
With apprenticeships becoming a more popular way of securing long term employment for so many, there is a significant opportunity for businesses large and small to take advantage and construct a training programme to develop the workers of the future.