Recent changes mean that employers are now leading the development of standards and assessment processes for their apprentices. Apprenticeship Trailblazers are groups of employers working together to design new apprenticeship standards for occupations within their sectors.
This is an excellent opportunity to develop workers with the right skills, but it’s also a big responsibility.
Trailblazer groups set the industry standards for the new apprenticeships, but then an assessment approach needs to be developed to confirm that they’re being met.
The assessment approach establishes a common understanding for those designing, delivering and quality-assuring assessments and ensures that assessments and standards are aligned.
Developing an assessment approach can be a complex exercise. It must provide enough information to guide those designing assessments whilst allowing for innovation and flexibility. An assessment approach is not the assessment itself, although it may recommend broad parameters like whether assessments should be practical or written.
Some key considerations when developing an assessment approach include:
- How close to the end of an apprenticeship will the synoptic, end-of-learning assessment take place? Within the last month? Three months after completion? Six months?
- How long will the assessment last? — Will it finish in a single day or take place over a period of time? — It’s important that all apprentices are asked to demonstrate competence within the same timeframe.
- Where will the assessment take place? Does it have to be in a real workplace, a simulated environment or a training centre? Or can it be completed virtually (which would also contribute to government targets for online learning)? This depends on what is practicable for the employer and apprentice and what assessment resources are required.
The assessment approach will set the direction for all employers — large, medium, and small — but capability to deliver assessment may differ across an industry. Trailblazer groups will therefore also have to consider how quality assurance of resources will be carried out.