You need to submit an occupation proposal:

  • for a new occupational standard, where the occupational standard will be the basis of an apprenticeship or technical education qualification  
  • to add or remove an option (occupation) in an existing core and options occupational standard, or to add an occupation and create a core and options occupational standard (see below)
  • for a revision to an occupational standard in some cases

An occupation proposal must meet our occupation requirements for us to agree to its development as an occupational standard.

Your product manager (PM) can lead a workshop to help you develop your occupation proposal. 

You need to use apprenticeship builder to complete your occupation proposal and to submit it into the approvals process, along with any supporting evidence. The apprenticeship builder (not used exclusively for apprenticeships) will also be the way you submit your occupational standard and EPA plan.

Your product manager (PM) must confirm that your documents are ready for consideration before you submit them.


1. Occupational standards requirements

An occupational standard forms the basis of IfATE approved apprenticeships and technical education products. It contains a description of the occupation (occupational profile) and the ‘knowledge, skills, and behaviours’ (KSBs) needed to be competent in it.

An occupational standard is a component of an apprenticeship, along with the end-point assessment plan (EPA) and funding band. If an occupational standard is being developed with the intention of creating an apprenticeship, the occupation must require sufficient off the job training to meet the off-the job training criteria/rule – a full time apprentices working 30 hours or more per week should spend an average of at least 6 hours per week in off-the-job training.

In order to approve an occupational standard for a given occupation, the occupation must meet the following criteria:


The occupation must: be in demand in the labour market; have knowledge, skills and behaviours that meet the needs of a range of employers; provide opportunities to progress.

We will assess this by:• confirming that the occupation is in demand from a range of employers• confirming that job adverts and the occupational profile share a high degree of similarity, describing similar duties, knowledge and skills across different employers • confirming that the occupational profile is agreed across the different employers in the trailblazer group • comparing whether the tasks assigned to the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC code, if there is one) align with the occupational description and job adverts provided



The occupation must: require practical workplace experience and training or education of at least 12 months for a typical new entrant to become competent in the occupation (for an apprenticeship, this means that full time apprentices working 30 hours or more per week should spend an average of at least 6 hours per week in off-the-job-training).

We will assess this by: • confirming that the occupation requires a combination of workplace experience and training or education taking at least 12 months before a new entrant would be considered competent by employers. How does one become competent and how long does it usually take? (We may ask for a summary model training programme for the occupation if there is doubt that the training required is at least one year) •confirming that the occupation is not level 1 by reviewing it against our occupation level guide and the Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) from the Office for National Statistics. Roles in group 8 (routine operative) and group 9 (elementary occupations) and some in groups 6 and 7 may not meet the skills required for an apprenticeship or technical education product.


Provides occupational competence

The description of the occupation must: fully define what employers expect an individual skilled in the occupation to be able to do.

We will assess this by ensuring that: • the occupational profile reflects competence in the occupation• the occupational profile takes account of the expected prior knowledge or skills of a new entrant to the occupation• the knowledge required can be readily defined across a range of employers; we may need to seek additional information to do this.



The occupation must: be recognised by a representative range of employers in the occupation and by professional bodies and regulators where relevant.

We will assess this by: • confirming that the occupation is widely known and commonly understood by employers, especially amongst small employers. E.g., employers are using similar occupation / job titles and descriptions • confirming that the occupational profile reflects the views of professional and regulatory bodies where relevant • confirming that the occupation is widely recognised across career services, e.g. National Careers Service, Prospect, etc • (for emerging occupations) confirming (from relevant bodies) that the occupation is new, advertised to a limited extent, and substantially different to other occupations



The occupation must: be at one occupational level only (at levels 2-7) and be distinct from other occupations on the occupational maps.

We will assess this by: • confirming that the occupation is distinct in terms of title and content from occupations at all levels and across all routes • confirming that the occupation is at level 2-7 by reviewing it against our occupation level guide.


2. Submitting an occupation enquiry

On first identifying the need for a new occupational standard, you will need to complete an enquiry form. Please email the enquiries team with the subject line: New Occupational Proposal and state the suggested title and route for your occupational proposal if known. The relevant member of the route group will then get back to you to ask for further details.

As part of this exercise, you will be asked to identify the occupation title. This will also be the title of any apprenticeship based on the occupational standard. It should conform to generally accepted titling guidelines in your sector(s). Our titles guide provides some general guidance.

Once you have submitted your enquiry form we will review your enquiry and ascertain whether there is sufficient evidence of demand to warrant taking the enquiry further. You will receive confirmation of the outcome of this review within eight weeks.

If we determine that there is sufficient evidence to proceed, you will be allocated a product manager (PM) who will work with you to develop the occupational profile and the associated job titles and duties.


3. Developing the occupational profile

Occupation profile

The main requirement for an occupation proposal is to produce an occupation profile. This has an overview of the occupation, typical job titles and a set of duties. The overview and duties should complement rather than repeat each other.


You need to complete four statements to form the overview.

Below are some examples of what information to include under each statement. Some information may be more relevant to your occupation than others.

Aim to keep the overview short and snappy so that the reader (for example, a potential apprentice) can quickly get a good idea of what the occupation involves.

The readability of an occupational standard should be appropriate to the skill level of the occupation. As far as possible, the language used should also be gender-neutral. Our guidance on language to use will help you.

This occupation is found in:

  • state the sector(s) or industries where the occupation is typically found
  • outline the range of workplaces or applications
  • outline the types and size of employers
  • add any other useful background information that defines the occupation

The broad purpose of the occupation is:

  • start by stating the overarching goal or broad purpose of the occupation
  • provide a high-level summary of the key duties, showing how they interact
  • outline any important information about the work environment, such as shift work, working at heights or outdoors
  • state if they typically need to drive as part of the role
  • include any statutory licensing requirements, for example, Gas Safe registration

In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with:

  • provide brief details of types of organisations, and internal and external functions that the employee would need to interact with (showing the range of levels)
  • add who they would typically report to

An employee in this occupation is responsible for:

  • explain what they must consider when doing the duties, like targets, timescales, regulations, ethics, professionalism. If you are developing an apprenticeship, these are likely to feature in the grading descriptors in your EPA plan
  • state the level of independence - the extent to which they are supervised or acting alone
  • outline resources they may be responsible for like budgets, company vehicle, tools

You can see an example of a profile from our apprenticeship standard section.


Typical job titles

Job titles for the same occupation often vary between sectors, sub-sectors, and employers. Using the Apprenticeship Builder, list the typical job titles used for the occupation and select whether any of them reflect green jobs. A green job role directly supports the UK government’s policy to tackle climate change.

Once your occupational standard is published, if someone enters one of these job titles in Apprenticeship Search it will take them to your apprenticeship webpage. This will detail all job roles relevant to your apprenticeship with any green ones highlighted as in the following case for Water Industry Treatment Process Technician:


Graphic showing relevant job roles with any green ones highlighted

All apprenticeships that include green job titles can also be selected via Apprenticeship Search using the filter button:

graphic showing green job search box


Progression is the development of an individual’s career by building on their knowledge and skills through further learning or training e.g., an apprenticeship, qualification or on-the-job experience.

Typical progression routes help individuals to identify career opportunities and goals.

Select typical progression routes for people in the occupation from the occupational maps. They can be at the same level or at a higher level than the proposed level of the occupational standard. They may be across different occupational routes. If a typical progression route exists for an occupational that is not on an occupational map, please state its title and level (2 to 7).


Duties describe what someone in the occupation ‘usually’ does in the workplace. They are sometimes called competences or activities. They should be distinct and complete activities – not tasks that make up part of a duty. They usually have an outcome. They are what you would find listed in a job description. For example, an engineering maintenance technician may have duties such as, installing equipment, conducting planned maintenance of equipment, or respond to breakdowns and conducting reactive maintenance.  Duties are not what you need to know or how you do something – this information will be covered in the knowledge and skills sections.

The occupational profile should list around 10 to 20 duties.

After completing an apprenticeship, a learner should have the competence to enable them to work in the role. Learners may also be able to gain some competence in the occupation by obtaining qualifications that align with that occupation. The duties in the occupational standard should be set at an appropriate level.

Individual employer’s roles may have different duties, more duties, or fewer duties than those you identify as needed for the occupational standard.

To write good duties:

  • start each duty with a verb
  • provide workplace context and give examples to help understanding
  • ensure they are not phrased skills or responsibilities (see above)

For a core and options standard, state the option number and option name at the start of each option’s duty.

For the overview and duties:

To develop the occupational profile, we suggest you:

  • ask every employer to bring along (or submit) their own job descriptions for the occupation
  • identify common duties within all or some of the job descriptions and produce an initial list
  • decide as a group which duties usually make up the occupation – think of it as a job description for the industry
  • ask someone who is not familiar with the occupation to read your draft profile, to see if they can understand it. If they need to ask questions, you probably need to do further work

Typical number of off-the-job training days for an apprenticeship

If you are developing an apprenticeship, you need to identify the number of off-the-job training days required by a new entrant to achieve competence in each duty.

A new entrant may not be new to the sector. You can assume some prior knowledge and skills if this is normal. Use the typical entry point (see below) to the apprenticeship as your starting point.

Apprenticeships must have at least one year’s employment, and full-time apprentices working 30 hours or more per week should spend an average of at least 6 hours per week in off-the-job training before taking their EPA.

Trailblazer groups and reference numbers

Trailblazer groups and occupational standards have a unique reference number. Your product manager will advise you of these.


Routes are 15 groups of occupations. There is an occupational map, for each route.

You need to state which route you think your occupation belongs to.

Occupational level

The occupational level is the level assigned to an occupation, based on its difficulty and degree of autonomy. The majority of the occupation’s knowledge, skills and behaviours should be aligned to the level it has been assigned.

You need to indicate the occupation level, based on our guidance on occupational standard levels.

The occupation level will also determine the level of an apprenticeship if you are developing one.

As part of the approvals process, we will decide on the occupational level.


For apprenticeships only

Typical duration (months)

You need to state the typical time that it will take to complete the training in months for the occupational standard. That is the period up to the gateway, before starting end-point assessment.

Target date (approved for delivery)

Enter the date that you aim to have completed the development work and the apprenticeship will be ‘approved for delivery’.

Degree apprenticeship

A degree apprenticeship includes a mandated bachelor’s or master’s degree. Where applying the degree apprenticeships policy to a new apprenticeship, you will need to discuss with your PM the case for mandating a degree before you submit your proposal and then formalise this request when you submit your proposal as detailed in Section 2 of our Degree Apprenticeships 2022 requirements and guidance.


4. Core and options

Core and options is a way of grouping two or more related occupations that employers recognise as sharing a common set of knowledge, skills, and behaviours. Occupations grouped together in this way will share knowledge, skills, and behaviours (in the core), and each occupation within the grouping will also have its own additional knowledge and skills (in the option).

For example, the water network operative apprenticeship covers the following two occupations:

  1. Clean water network operative
  2. Waste water network operative

Each occupation in a core and options approach must meet the requirements for an occupation, and each occupation is considered to have its own occupational standard consisting of the content of the core and the option.

The title of each occupation in a core and options approach should reflect that it is a recognised and a distinct occupation. It needs to be widely recognised in your sector(s) and should comply with our titles’ guide.

In core and options, there are core duties and knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) that are shared across the occupations. There are also duties, knowledge, and skills (and maybe behaviours) specific to each occupation (option).

A learner will need the KSBs detailed in the core and the relevant option to be competent in their occupation.

The core should be large enough so a learner would not need a significant amount of training to become competent in an occupation covered by another option.

An occupation proposal for a core and options needs to provide information on each occupation.

Apprenticeship builder allows you to select the core and options approach.

PMs will help you to identify where an occupation could form part of a core and options. Where this is possible, you still need to submit a proposal to add an option (occupation) to an existing core and options; or add an occupation to create a core and options.


For apprenticeships only

Core and option apprenticeships are allocated one funding band. Different funding bands are not allocated to different options. Where options have different costs associated with them, the funding band will be assigned based on the lowest cost option to achieve the apprenticeship. This is something you will need to consider when determining the viability and content of a core and options approach.

The development of apprenticeships in a core and options format can make it easier to understand common training and transferable skills across related occupations.


5. Additional information

KSB categories

You will be asked to provide a list of high level occupational categories, that the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSB) can be mapped against, to demonstrate competence for this occupation.

For example: Health and Safety; Patient Safety; Regulatory requirements; Communication; Quality and Governance; Sustainable and Green; Finance; taking account of construction sector report "xyz" etc.

Please note, the number of KSB categories you include is optional, however you will need to provide at least one and the more evidence you provide the better, as we can provide feedback to you once your proposal is formally submitted.


Assessment methods

You will be asked to include the end-point assessment methods likely to be used to assess competence against the KSBs as a whole.


Typical entry points to the apprenticeship and occupation

Each employer can set their own entry requirements to the apprenticeship, but you should outline any typical entry requirements where they exist. This could be “employers will typically expect someone applying for the apprenticeship to have ‘x’ experience or ‘y’ qualifications”. Where qualifications are cited, it is important to consider equivalents such as T Levels rather than solely A levels.

Where there are statutory or regulatory entry requirements for an occupation, they must be stated. For example, safety or statutory requirements that prevent 16- to 18-year-olds working in the occupation.



An occupational standard should support transferability. This means it must meet the needs of a range of employers and provides opportunities to progress.

This requires the occupational standard’s duties and KSBs to be set at an appropriate level, not at the lowest common denominator.

You need to outline the steps you have taken, or will take, to ensure that the proposed occupational standard provides transferability.

You should detail the range of employer types, directly and indirectly, involved so far, along with any support organisations.
You need to upload two recent job adverts for the occupations to apprenticeship builder, as one PDF document. For a core and options proposal, this applies to each occupation.


Typical number of starts for an apprenticeship

Provide an estimate of the typical number of annual starts you expect on your apprenticeship.


Distinct occupation

You need to show that the proposed occupational standard covers a distinct occupation.

You need to explain how the occupation is different to any similar occupations for which there are already occupational standards. If an existing occupational standard covers an occupation, we will not permit the development of another one. There may be some overlap of duties and KSBs between occupational standards, but this should not be significant.

You should list any similar occupational standards and explain how they might be different to the one in your proposal.

You should identify where your occupation fits within the relevant occupational map.


Mandated qualifications

A qualification can be mandated as part of an apprenticeship subject to meeting certain criteria. Where a qualification is mandated, all apprentices must pass the qualification as well as the EPA to complete the apprenticeship. Where you wish to mandate a qualification in a new apprenticeship, you must provide information and evidence supporting the case for this as part of your occupation proposal.

For further information on the criteria and process for mandating a qualification, and subsequent development process, see our separate webpages covering degree apprenticeships and mandated qualifications policy (excluding degrees). Which webpage is relevant depends on the type of qualification you are seeking to mandate.


For an apprenticeship only

Ideally, the professional body or bodies should accept an apprenticeship certificate as evidence the individual has reached a recognised standard of competence they issue. In such cases, the apprenticeship is fully aligned with the professional recognition or status.

In some cases, the professional body or bodies may only recognise the apprenticeship certificate as evidence the individual has reached part of a recognised of competence. In these cases, the apprenticeship is partially aligned with professional recognition or status. That means the individual will need to achieve any additional requirements and provide evidence of them before they are eligible to apply for professional recognition. This may be for example, a certain amount of experience or type of experience. If this is the case, this needs to be stated in the occupational standard.


Occupations where there is a statutory regulator 

To practice in some occupations (professions), it is a legal requirement for individuals to be registered with a statutory regulator. Individuals must meet the requirements of the statutory regulator to work in the occupation. This may be referred to as a ‘license to practice.’

You will need to state if you are developing an occupational standard for an occupation where there is a statutory regulator.

Where this is the case, the statutory regulator’s requirements for an occupation should be reflected in the occupational standard’s knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) and any qualifications mandated in an apprenticeship (where applicable). Trailblazer groups may identify other KSBs that the occupational needs to contain beyond those required by the regulator.  

You need to name the regulator and confirm that they have agreed to work with you to develop the occupational standard.

You can find additional guidance about developing  occupational standards for occupations where there is a statutory regulator.


Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

You should refer to IfATE’s equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) toolkit when developing your occupation proposal and occupational standard. This will make sure EDI is a consideration in their development. This toolkit forms part of a broader EDI operational framework which is applied to apprenticeships and technical qualifications.

The EDI toolkit provides guidance and information about EDI related matters, such as removing barriers and making apprenticeships more accessible. It explains the steps you will need to follow to ensure EDI is considered when developing your proposal and standard. Your product manager will provide diversity data to support your application of the toolkit. You will also be asked to address some EDI validation questions when submitting your documents for approval.


Last updated 4 September 2023