Apprenticeship standards in the UK are something that you will read a lot about on this website. They are essentially vocational qualifications that apprentices can achieve in order to demonstrate their competence in a particular line of work. There are over 570 apprenticeship standards available in 2022, and they cover a wide range of occupations spanning multiple different sectors.
They are an important way of keeping the apprenticeship sector in the UK accountable and ensuring that the best efforts are made to help the apprentices to be the best that they can be and develop the skills they need to succeed in life.
Apprenticeship standards are largely an attempt to move away from the stereotype that was rife in the 1980s and 1990s of the Youth Training Scheme (YTS) kids who would get sent off to make the tea for the rest of the team, rather than being taught what they were meant to.
These schemes were heavily criticised at the time for being cheap labour for companies that didn’t actually do anything to further the life chances of the young school leavers who joined them. This is clearly something that apprenticeship standards set out to address and to ensure that there is no repeat of.
The perceived failings of the YTS lead to a rise of young people who were “Not in Education Employment or Training (NEETs) and this is something that the current system of apprenticeship standards is trying hard to address. It is important for the next generation of workers that they learn the skills that can empower them and help them to achieve their goals.
How Are Apprenticeship Standards Developed?
Apprenticeship standards have been developed through cooperation between employers and industry bodies, in consultation with apprentices, training providers and other stakeholders. They aim to set out the skills, knowledge and behaviours that an apprentice needs in order to be able to do their job to a nationally-recognised standard.
This means that future employers can have confidence that an apprentice who has studied a particular apprenticeship standard in Huddersfield will have learned the same skills that another apprentice based in London who is doing the same standard will have learned. This allows for a far greater level of confidence that the system is doing what it is designed to do and is helping to prepare young people, particularly school leavers, for a productive working life in an area that interests them.
What Do Apprenticeship Standards Comprise?
Young people who are taking part in an apprenticeship standard will be expected to spend 80% of their time working for the company they are on a placement with and the other 20% studying in the off the job portion of the apprenticeship. Both parts of the apprenticeship are paid the same amount of money and a qualification is earned at the end of the apprenticeship.
The academic level of this qualification is dependent on the type of apprenticeship and whether it is an Intermediate, Advanced, Higher or Degree apprenticeship. The different educational attainment levels of the apprenticeships conform to standards within the education system generally with the different levels corresponding to various different educational outcomes. A degree apprenticeship, for example, is worth as much as a standard degree from an academic institution.
The benefit that apprentices have is that they have not only been receiving an education in their chosen subject area but they have also been gaining valuable on the job experience which will stand them in good stead when it comes to getting a job afterward. They are also not burdened with the cost of tuition fees, which is a major deterrent for young people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds when it comes to going to university.
In a way, the apprenticeship standards system helps to combat some of the inherent unfairness in the education system and ensure that students from less affluent backgrounds can still excel academically. They can help to start a young person off on a career path that interests them and get them closer to achieving what they want to in their working lives.
What is the Purpose of Apprenticeship Standards?
The purpose of apprenticeship standards is to ensure that apprentices have the skills and knowledge they need to be competent in their chosen occupation. They also provide employers with a way to assess whether apprentices are meeting the standards required for the job. Apprentices who successfully complete an apprenticeship standard will receive a certificate that they can use to demonstrate their skills and competence to employers.
Is There a Test to Complete an Apprenticeship?
Apprentices will be expected to undergo what is known as an End Point Assessment (EPA) at the end of their apprenticeship in order to complete it successfully. This assessment varies from one apprenticeship standard to another but it is expected to be able to demonstrate that the apprentice has learned the core skills that are necessary to undertake a successful career in their chosen role.
An End Point Assessment will ideally test the knowledge, learned behaviours and the skills of the apprentice and ensure that they will be an asset to companies they work for in the future when they are pursuing their chosen career.
End Point Assessments are carried out by a dedicated End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) so that there is no risk of the results being tainted in favour of the apprentice by a sympathetic colleague or boss. You can read more about what End Point Assessments entail by visiting our dedicated guide.
Apply for an Apprenticeship
If reading the above has made you want to start an apprenticeship, one of the best places to look in order to find something that is suitable for you is our apprenticeship jobs board. We have thousands of vacancies listed and you should be able to find something that works for you.
If you are an employer rather than an apprentice who is looking to advertise your apprenticeship vacancy to the largest and most relevant audience, take the time to look at our services for employers and apprenticeship job vacancy credits, which will allow you to post your vacancy on our jobs board