huge stack of paper next to a tiny stack

Frameworks vs standards

The new apprenticeship standards are slicker, smarter and smaller than their predecessors – and there are loads of subtle differences.

Frameworks vs standards

huge stack of paper next to a tiny stack

Meet the new generation of apprenticeship frameworks – the new standards.

The new apprenticeship standards are slicker, smarter and smaller than their predecessors – but some people are still finding them difficult to understand. The standards include some major differences – like the new end-point assessment and grading system – plus, they're condensed onto 2 sides of A4. There are loads of subtle differences in how they're designed and delivered too that can be hard to get your head around.

So why were they introduced?

The standards were introduced as part of the UK Government's major apprenticeship reforms. The reforms were designed to generate apprenticeship funding, increase the number of starts, and give employers more control. The new standards put power in the hands of the employer as they're involved in both the design and delivery of the new standards. Employers can also apply to be an employer-provider to deliver their own apprenticeship training. 

What are the main differences?


Frameworks were designed by a group of organisations relevant to the apprenticeship. The new standards are designed by groups of employers to ensure the KSBs included in the course are relevant to a specific occupation. Employers can design their own standards, and deliver the training in house.


The old frameworks are extensive documents that contain all the criteria apprentices have to meet. They're lengthy, but they're what many training providers and assessors are used to. In comparison, the new standards are short, concise, and don't contain individual criteria. Instead, they just outline the overall KSBs required and must fit onto 2 sides of A4 in size 12 font.

Download our apprenticeship standard template.


Apprentices on the old frameworks were continually assessed throughout their qualification. The new standards include a range of on-programme assessments, including an EPA (end-point assessment).


The new apprenticeship standards are now graded according to the apprentice's performance in their EPA. Learners aren't graded by assessors or tutors; the EPA must be delivered by an independent registered apprentice assessment organisation (AAO).


The old apprenticeships were funded directly by the ESFA (Education and Skills Funding Agency). For large employers, the new standards will be funded by the apprenticeship levy through the apprenticeship service.

Functional skills

English and maths functional skills are part of the apprenticeship framework, so providers had to train specialists to deliver functional skills to their apprentices. English and maths are still part of the new standards, but they're funded under a different funding stream. This means providers can hire another organisation to deliver functional skills.


As you can see, some of the differences are glaringly obvious, while others are more subtle. This can be confusing, especially if you're the one delivering the new standards. To help clear things up, we've created a handy guide that compares the two – from how they're designed to how they're delivered.

Download guide


Or jump straight in! Find out how OneFile's eportfolio has been specifically designed to support the new standards.

This article includes research and opinion sourced by OneFile at the time of publication. Things may have changed since then,
so this research is to be used at the reader's discretion. OneFile is not liable for any action taken based on this research.