Institute for Apprenticeships: Faster & Better

The Institute for Apprenticeships remit is to ensure the development of high quality apprenticeships it also covers a series of supportive and advisory functions, all with a focus on ensuring that apprentices have the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to make a significant contribution to their job role, sector and employer. You can find out more about the remit and work that the Institute for Apprenticeships do here.

Towards the end of 2017 the Institute set out their Faster and Better plan, explaining “We’ve always recognised some of the systems, policies and processes we inherited needed improving. Institute staff have been listening, consulting and planning improvements to make the process faster and better”.

You can download the faster and better plan here.

Refreshed high level policy

We’re agreeing changes with the Department for Education to:

  • bring forward all of the occupation criteria and approve this at proposal stage
  • operate to the criteria and abolish many of the second order rules which we use.
  • align the criteria with the Quality Statement, to make it easier to test against it
  • introduce a comprehensive occupational profile setting out key occupational activities, and derive knowledge, skills and behaviours from this
  • simplify standards criteria so they are only concerned with drafting.

Clarified qualifications criteria

Apprenticeship standards assume that the apprenticeship itself is the ‘qualification’. But standards can contain mandated qualifications as well, if the qualification meets certain criteria. This policy is applied to all types of qualification, whether the qualification acts against or helps with the fundamental design principle above. This has led to some unpredictable results. Revised policies in this area will improve quality, and enhance flexibility for employers.

Revised funding calculations:

Apprenticeship funding needs to be set at a level which allows high-quality delivery, while supporting as many apprentices as possible. We’re developing a quicker and more transparent system for making funding band recommendations. We’ll align this to the approvals process for standards and assessment plans, to cut out unnecessary stages and make sure new apprenticeships are ready as quickly as possible.

Intuitive templates for submissions:

We’re undertaking the development of fixed templates for drafting proposals, standards and end-point assessment plans. These will include guidance, best practice examples and drop down menus all intended to make it easier for trailblazer groups to develop ‘policy compliant’ submissions at each stage of the process, and prepare us for a digital end-to-end service later in 2018.

A simple, effective process for reviewing standards:

Standards need reviewing and revising to ensure they continue to meet changing needs. We’re developing a two-stage Review process, starting with a Route Review (a review of occupations in a route and their relationship to one another), and then progressing to the more detailed scrutiny of a Pathway Review. More detail is to follow, and employers will be actively involved.

Strong upfront support for trailblazers:

We want to anticipate trailblazers’ needs and the challenges they may face as early as possible. We’ll introduce a trailblazer launch pack, including a ‘support and expectations’ agreement. There will also be updated and revamped written guidance, as well as the use of face-to-face events, webinars and videos by way of support. A handbook will be developed for Relationship Managers to better ensure consistency of support across all routes, and additional training on assessment policy and how to present it.

Communicating shared expectations:

Trailblazer groups want to understand the support on offer from the Institute, and to get a better sense of what the expectations are of their work. We’ve drafted an informal ‘support and expectations’ agreement that will provide a clear outline of what both parties can do to work best together. We’re supporting that with enhanced communications channels to promote where support is available.

Faster standards development

Everyone wants standards to be ready as fast as possible, and we are working hard to shorten the process. Starting in the New Year, trailblazer groups will be able to access intensive two-day workshops to complete the writing of standards or assessment plans from start to finish, saving about a third of the usual time. We’ll also be working closely with trailblazer groups to enable standards and EPA plans can be submitted and approved in parallel, saving about six weeks from the end-to-end process.

Digital and comms

We recognise our stakeholders want to know more about the steps we are taking to refine and improve our processes. Our new website is among the ways in which we’re providing more information about what’s happening at the Institute, and will be the portal for many digital initiatives in the coming months.

Next Steps

  • Use your dashboard to explore our Youth Friendly Principles
  • Find out more about the Talent Match Mark and how you can be recognised for your youth friendly work
  • Visit our Careers Hub and find out how you can inspire young people in to the world of work

For more information, please email or call 01536 513388.

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