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Qualification for Apprenticeship Pilot

ConstructionSkills is participating in the QCA/SSDA pilot exploring the possibility of the Apprenticeship becoming a qualification.

Background of work to date

January 2006

QCA was asked by the then Secretary of State to provide advice on the potential for a qualification for apprentices. This England-only project explored whether a completion qualification would provide clearer recognition of apprenticeship achievement and also addressed the practicality and design of such a qualification. In order to ensure employer ownership and confidence in any new arrangements, QCA is working closely with Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) and Standards Setting Bodies (SSBs). The objectives were:

  • Explore and produce advice on models for a qualification for apprentices by drawing on collaborative work with SSCs/SSBs, primary and secondary research, international perspectives, obtaining the views of employers, other occupational bodies, young people, awarding and regulatory bodies and other key stakeholders.
  • Produce and consult on several models and ensure that they:

      o Retain their distinctiveness and are employer-led;

      o Take account of the new Qualification and Credit Framework (QCF) Diplomas, Foundation Degrees, and other framework developments.

  • Investigate whether a qualification for apprentices could contribute to a license to practice in specific sectors.
  • Assess the impact a qualification for apprentices might have on:

      o Levels of achievement (completion rates);

      o Numbers of young people undertaking a qualification for apprentices;

      o Employer ownership;

      o Progression routes and continuous professional development;

      o Content, delivery and practicality;

      o Status and currency.

  • Assess the impact of converting the current apprenticeship model into a nationally recognised qualification, with particular reference to additional costs and operational issues that may affect SSCs and other stakeholders.

July 2006

QCA received a joint remit with the Skills for Business Network, with the following objectives:

  • Work in partnership under a joint remit to build ownership and commitment from employers on the way forward.
  • Test the benefits of an overarching qualification for portability for learners and improved currency, and measure the impact on flexibility, completion rates and employer engagement.
  • Consider variations to the models in the QCA report A qualification for apprentices ( http://www.qca.org.uk/17454.html), July 2006, to thoroughly explore issues and concerns.
  • Consider progression routes between Diploma development and apprenticeships.
  • Carry out a genuine and objective pilot in England only, with no predetermined outcome.

Progress to Date

Two Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) and a Standards Setting Body (SSB) have been working with Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA) and QCA in taking the pilot forward. ConstructionSkills, Council for Administration, and the Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance (SEMTA) have developed apprenticeship qualification models, which have been approved by the Apprenticeship Approvals Group (AAG) as meeting the Apprenticeship Blueprint. Two pilots will work in parallel with the Qualification and Credit Framework test and trial phase. They will be objective pilots and fully evaluated to clarify the value added to learners and employers. QCA has worked with the SSCs/SSBs and awarding bodies to accredit the qualifications

A strategy for the evaluation of the pilots has been developed and approved in June 2007.

Why look at the Apprenticeship becoming a qualification?

Following consultation with employers it was felt that integrating the current multiple components of an apprenticeship into a single qualification will help to simplify the framework and potentially improve achievement rates. Concern was also expressed that although the apprentices following the current framework were achieving the specialised competence element of the Framework they had insufficient experience to operate commercially at the same level as the experienced workforce.

Employers felt that the specialised focus of NVQ pathways within the existing framework was inappropriate for new entrants. They also believe the knowledge element of the framework needs broadening to include skills that are not currently contained in the existing technical certificates.

What would the new Apprenticeship qualification include?

There will be a single craft qualification for the Apprenticeship Framework and two single qualifications for the Advanced Apprenticeship Framework one at craft and one at technician. Each qualification will include the necessary mandatory framework components that include a competence component, a knowledge component ERR and functional skills.

At apprenticeship level the qualification will include mandatory units and optional pathways for Bricklaying, Roof Slating and Tiling, Drilling and sawing, Road Lining and Marking, Fa├žade preservation and sealant Application.

At Advanced Apprenticeship Level there will be a craft qualification comprising mandatory unit and pathways for Bricklaying and roof slating and tiling derived from NVQ at level 3. There will also be a technical qualification comprising mandatory units based on BTEC National and optional units based on the NVQs from construction contracting and site technical design at level 3.

How long is the Pilot and when does it start?

The pilot qualifications will be tested over the three year period launching in Sept 2007.

Who is awarding the pilot qualification?

The qualification will be awarded by:

  • Awarding Body for Construction
  • Edexcel
  • Awards UK

Would Apprentices gain a full CSCS card?

Apprentices in this Pilot would on completion remain in employment gaining further experience and would undertake an assessment to confirm their full CSCS Card

Who has been involved in developing this pilot?

The project is overseen by a board that meet quarterly throughout the life of the project. The board is chaired by a member of the Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network and Chief Executive of N.G Bailey, Mark Andrews. It includes representatives from the following organisations: Dept. of Innovation, Universities and Skills, QCA, SSDA, Learning and Skills Council, Federation of Awarding Bodies, Joint Council for Qualifications, ConstructionSkills, People1st, Skillsmart Retail, SummitSkills, Habia, Association of Colleges, Association of Learning Providers, Ofsted and the TUC. There are observers of the group from The Department for children, education, lifelong learning and skills (DCELLS) in Wales, the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) in Northern Ireland, the Scottish Modern Apprenticeship Group (MAP) and QCA, Northern Ireland.

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