man writes on whiteboard

How to develop an apprenticeship standard

Follow these 5 steps to build an apprenticeship standard.

How to develop an apprenticeship standard

man writing on a whiteboard

If you're an employer, and you can’t find an apprenticeship standard for your industry – maybe you could make your own?   

As we’ve seen with emerging industries like space and robotics, employers can shape the whole process from designing the standards to delivering training.  

Helping to create a new apprenticeship standard could give you the power to shape learning to meet the exact needs of your business. The only caveat is that any new curriculum cannot be totally niche or exclusive – it should also be transferable to others. Nothing worthwhile ever came easy and there are a few steps to go through – but if a sustainable pipeline of talent headed your way, it might be worth the effort.  

STEP 1: Creating a trailblazer group 

To start to design your own apprenticeship, you'll need to build support from a group of 10 employers. The group should reflect the scope of the industry, and include at least two employers with fewer than 50 employees. When the group has been formed, everyone must play an active role and work together to develop the standard. 

You can also invite relevant professional bodies and trade associations into the group to help, but it's the employers who have the final say. 

STEP 2: Submit a proposal  

Your proposal won't be approved if a similar standard already exists or is already in development. It’s sensible to check your proposal against others here – then when you're ready to submit, just fill in the online form on the government website. 

STEP 3: Start building 

Once you’ve gained approval to develop a standard, you should outline the core knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) apprentices need to meet in order to reach full competence within the occupation. You may want to add optional KSBs and decide whether you want to include a degree as part of any apprenticeships at level 6 or above. This would involve working with a higher education provider, so you'll have to include different people during the design and delivery process.  

STEP 4: Set the EPA 

All new apprenticeship standards must include an end-point assessment (EPA) which has to be outlined in the relevant standard. Make sure you include details of the assessment methods and quality assurance processes. 

STEP 5: Grading 

New apprenticeships are graded, so make sure your group  includes clear grading criteria and descriptions within your assessment plan. Try to avoid generic words like 'good' or 'in-depth' without providing clarity and examples of what those terms mean.  These guidelines will set out what the apprentice has to achieve to be graded pass, merit or distinction. In the event things go wrong, some apprentices will need to re-sit their EPA, so make sure you think through requirements for this, too.  

EPAs are assessed by independent assessment organisations, so you'll need to state what skills and knowledge you require from assessors. For some employers, it pays to consult with all the agencies involved from an early stage.  

STEP 6: Submit your standard 

The Institute for Apprenticeships works alongside employers to develop, approve, review and revise proposed apprenticeships and technical qualifications. The organisation will assign a relationship manager to your group, to  support you through the process, and double-check your standard before submission. When your deadline is approaching, submit your apprenticeship standard here. 

If your proposal is rejected, you can make amendments and try again. 

You can complete large sections of the proposal online , but the apprenticeship standard itself must be short and clear, taking up no more than three sides of A4 in size 12 font. You can set out new standards as you see fit , but to maximise efficiency, we recommend following a template – especially while you’re in the design stages. 

Download our template for an apprenticeship standard here. 

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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.