How to deliver apprenticeships as an employer-provider
When it comes to apprenticeships, employers are in the driving seat.
The new apprenticeship standards are short, slick and flexible enough to apply to a massive range of companies. Best of all, individual businesses can adapt them even further so that apprentices learn to work their way.
But designing standards isn't the only way employers can get involved in delivering apprenticeships.
If businesses really want to take the wheel of their workplace training, they need to become an employer-provider. That means delivering apprenticeships directly to their staff: taking control of learning, assessment, quality and end-point assessment. It might sound like a big undertaking, but if you're a levy-paying employer, it's one of the best ways to maximise your cash. Some companies, like Siemens, have already set up as employer-providers. If you get a taste for it, you can even apply to become a main provider and deliver apprenticeships to other companies.
Let's put on the brakes, though, and see exactly what's involved in delivering apprenticeships as an employer-provider.
You don't have to design your own standard unless the exact apprenticeship you want to deliver doesn't exist yet. Take a look at the list of existing standards, and if yours is available, just download the standard and assessment plan. Then you can build a delivery plan for the entire apprenticeship, focusing on the knowledge, skills and behaviours that your ideal team member will exhibit.
Whether you want to upskill your existing staff or recruit new apprentices, you'll need to sign an apprenticeship agreement and a commitment statement with each of them. The agreement sets out the employment arrangements, while the commitment statement outlines the expectations of the learner and the employer-provider. These are auditable documents, so make sure they're stored safely – a reliable eportfolio can help you keep track of them.
Training & learning
Now we're getting in to fifth gear. Apprenticeships are all about learning, both on- and off-the-job, so make sure you have engaging ways to train your staff. Some of the standards recommend particular assessment methods, so we'd recommend you start there. You can use multimedia evidence to prove competencies, quizzes to show knowledge, and LOADS more – especially if you use an interactive VLE. This is your chance to get creative!
That's on-the-job covered – so what about off-the-job? All apprentices have to spend 20% of their rostered hours learning off-the-job – so think about what activities would bring the most value to your learner and your business. It can be mentoring, shadowing, personal development, industry visits – think outside the box! Just make sure that all off-the-job training is recorded and measured.
We've mentioned audits, measuring and tracking – which are all really important for maintaining quality. But to be sure you've got all the information you need – especially when you're just buckling up – use technology. An eportfolio with an extensive reporting suite makes it easy to monitor learner progress, check achievement rates and track off-the-job training. It also means when Ofsted come calling, you'll have all the data you need at your fingertips.
Gateway & EPA
You've reached your destination: the end-point assessment. The EPA format is outlined in the standard, so make sure your staff know what they'll be up against: it could be a portfolio of evidence, an exam, a presentation, or something else entirely. Both the learner and the employer-provider should agree when it's time to take the EPA – so make sure your learner is ready before you put them forward. Raring to go? You can't assess your own EPA, so partner up with an established EPA organisation and help your staff coast through their qualification.
Now we've given you the basics of what's involved in becoming an employer-provider, it's time to dig a little deeper. After all, if you want to impress Ofsted, you'll need to speak their language. Download our A-Z of apprenticeships to get 26 fast facts about apprenticeship delivery.