Developing an apprenticeship occupation proposal - slide pack

An apprenticeship standard must relate to an occupation, but not all occupations provide the basis for an apprenticeship standard as defined in our Quality Statement

You need to consider whether the occupation meets our requirements for an apprenticeship standard. If you are confident it does and your relationship manager (RM) agrees, the first stage is to develop an occupation proposal. You will also need to submit an occupation proposal if you want to add an occupation to an agreed core and options apprenticeship standard.

The main things that your occupation proposal will need to include are:

  • an occupational profile, including the duties it consists of
  • the indicative typical duration of the apprenticeship
  • the indicative occupational level of the apprenticeship
  • the amount of off-the-job training required by a new entrant to become fully competent in the occupation via the apprenticeship. Note that this will not necessarily mean that the apprentice is new to the sector, meaning that some prior knowledge and skills can be assumed if this would be the norm.
  • evidence of skills transferability
  • how it fits in with any existing apprenticeship standards

You will need to enter this information on the occupation proposal part of our apprenticeship builder and submit it along with any supporting evidence.

During the process of developing your proposal, and certainly prior to submitting it, you will need to give your RM background information relating primarily to the membership of your trailblazer group and proposed occupation.

Your RM must confirm that your occupation proposal is ready for consideration before you submit it. Subject to this, you can submit occupation proposal using apprenticeship builder at any time and we will consider it after the next submissions deadline date.

You may want to wait until we agree your proposed apprenticeship standard occupation and trailblazer group membership before completing any work on the occupational standard and end-point assessment (EPA) plan. However, once we have agreed that the occupation is suitable for an apprenticeship standard, even if difficulties arise along the way, developing an occupational standard and EPA plan should always be achievable.

All of these aspects are covered in detail in the following sections.

1. Apprenticeship occupation requirements

Our requirements for an apprenticeship occupation are detailed in the left hand column, of the table below. The information you provide via your RM and the template will need to cover these requirements. The actions in the right hand column indicate how we will test your occupation proposal against these requirements.

Occupation requirements


The Institute will assess whether these REQUIREMENTS have been met by:

Is transferable

In demand in the labour market

Transferable to a range of other employers and secures long term earnings potential, greater security and capability to progress

Meeting the standards of a range of employers rather than the needs of one employer

 ✔ Comparing the occupational profile given in the occupation proposal form with job advertisements and recruitment materials etc

✔   Scrutinising and assessing evidence that the occupation is in demand from a range of employers using commonly understood or similar occupation/job titles and with a substantially common occupational profile

✔   Confirming that the occupational profile is agreed across the different employers in the trailblazer group

Is sufficiently broad, deep and skilled

Sufficiently skilled in terms of breadth and depth to require employment and training of at least a year’s duration with 20% of the time in off-the-job training


 Evaluating that the indicative training duration and off-the-job requirement for new recruits who are not apprentices, is not less than one year with at least 20% off-the-job training; we may ask for a summary model off-the-job training programme for the occupation if there is doubt 

✔  Confirming that the occupation is not level 1

✔ Confirming that the occupation is not Standard Occupation Classification groups 8 or 9 (routine operative and elementary occupations - see below)

Provides full occupational competence for new entrants

The occupation and occupational profile fully define occupational competence for a new entrant to the occupation rather than only part of this

 ✔ Evaluating that the occupational profile reflects full competence in the occupation

✔ Assessing that the occupational profile covers all that is required for a new entrant to the occupation, but taking account of prior knowledge or skills generally expected of a new recruit to the occupation.

✔ Confirming that the full knowledge required can be readily defined across a range of employers; we may need to seek additional information to do this

Is recognised and stands alone

Recognised by a range of employers and people practising the occupation

One occupation relates to one level only at 2 to 8

 Aligns with an occupation within the relevant Occupational Map

 Recognised by relevant professional bodies and/or regulators

✔ Determining that the occupation is widely known and common to employers in the route panel and more widely, especially amongst small employers

✔ Determining that the occupation is distinct in terms of title and content from occupations at all levels and across all Routes/Pathways

✔ Establishing that the occupation is listed on the relevant Occupational Map (there will be an amendments procedure)

✔ Scrutinising evidence that the occupation reflects the views of professional and regulatory bodies where relevant


2. Using the apprenticeship builder

You must use the occupation proposal part of our apprenticeship builder when writing your proposal.

Any information provided for this stage of the process, which is needed for subsequent stages, will not need to be provided again; although, you will have the opportunity to refine it as you move through the process.

Details of how to use the apprenticeship builder are contained within it, along with links to our requirements.

3. Supplying additional background information before submission

During the process of developing your occupation proposal, and certainly prior to submitting it, you will need to give your RM the following information relating to your trailblazer group and the proposed occupation:

  • name of trailblazer group and, if a new group:
    • details of chair (name, employer, main business activity, employer size - see size definitions in third bullet below, telephone, email); and confirmation that the individual meets theeligibility criteria for a trailblazer group chair. Note that the chair must be the public contact for the trailblazer group on the apprenticeship standard’s page on our website
    • details of any facilitator (name, employer, telephone, email)
    • details of employers on the group (name, employer, main business activity, employer size: micro (<10), small (10-49), medium (50-249) or large (>249), telephone, email)
    • details of any non-employer members

Your RM will record this information on our management information system and update it as required.

Once an occupation proposal is agreed for development, the employers on the trailblazer group will be listed on your apprenticeship standard’s page on our website, along with the contact details of the chair.

4. Checking that an occupation is suitable for an apprenticeship standard

Occupations come in all shapes and sizes: some are very small scale, some are traditional, some are brand new, some are understood and talked about in everyday conversations, some are almost unknown to the wider public. Before you start completing apprenticeship builder, you need to undertake some basic checks to determine whether the occupation meets the above requirements and hence justifies the development of an apprenticeship standard.

Use the job versus occupation table below to check what you are proposing is training for an occupation and not a job.

Job versus occupation



For employers:


Specific to one employer

Employed by a range of employers

Skills and knowledge vary by employer

A high degree of commonality exists across employers

Training can only happen with the employer

Training can include a publicly available component (for example day release courses, qualifications and apprenticeships) made widely available

Training is a self-interested process for the employer

Training is for all potential employers as well as the one doing the training. This helps smaller employers particularly

The job title is often only understood within the employer

The occupation title is known widely and sometimes used in everyday language

An asset for the employer


An asset for all employers and  the economy

For apprentices:


Status and identity relates to the employer and to pay level

Confers status and identity on the person across the labour market and society

Job security is determined by the employer

Provides wider security in the labour market based on skills and knowledge

Pay is employer-specific

There is a tendency towards a range or rate for the occupation

Employee is dependent on the employer for work

Less dependence and self- employment is an option for many occupations

‘Do’ a job

‘Practice’ an occupation

Possesses specific skills to do a job

Autonomous application of skills and knowledge


Consider whether the occupation is:

  • potentially too low skill

Not all occupations contain sufficient skill to require an apprenticeship. Use the tests set out in the box above, together with our occupational level guide to confirm that the occupation is not too low skilled. You need to include an indicative occupational level on the proposal form, although you can change this at a later stage. The level of the occupation must be at level 2 or above. Some occupations in Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) Major Groups 6 and 7 and most of the occupations in SOC Major Groups 8 and 9 are level 1. We recognise that there are some level 2 occupations in groups 8 and 9.

  • potentially too narrow

Some occupations cover niche roles where the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) appear narrow, procedural and/or repetitive. This narrowness might suggest the occupation doesn’t meet the training requirements for an apprenticeship. However, these occupations often involve substantial hand skills and trade knowledge regarding materials, methods and problem solving and considerable development of productivity skills. This means that it will often be possible to show that they need at least a year’s training but it may be difficult to determine whether the 20% off-the-job training is really needed.

  • potentially too broad

Some occupations are extremely broad, such as management or customer service. There is a role for apprenticeship standards in very broad occupations, but in some cases the breadth may compromise the value for new entrants to the occupation. The key test is whether the contextual knowledge (for example sector or product related) can be included in the occupational standard and is not confined to employer-specific knowledge. 

If, after working through these checks, you believe that the occupation does justify the development of an apprenticeship standard and your RM agrees, you are ready to start completing occupation proposal in apprenticeship builder.

The key element of this is developing the occupational profile, which is covered in the section below. You also need to decide on the occupation title, which will also be the title of the apprenticeship standard. It should conform to generally accepted titling guidelines in your sector(s)/occupational areas. Our titles guide provides some general guidance.

5. Developing the occupational profile

Ensure you know and understand the requirements for an occupational standard. Your RM can go through the requirements, using our apprenticeship standard requirements presentation. 

The main requirement for an occupation proposal to develop a new apprenticeship standard is to produce an occupational profile. This consists of an overview of the occupation and a set of duties.

Completing the following statements listed in the template will enable you to build an overview of the occupation:

  • This occupation is found in… [insert sectors where the occupation is typically found]
  • The broad purpose of the occupation is… [provide brief details of what an employee in this occupation does without going into the level of detail covered by the duties later in the template]
  • In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with… [provide brief details of types of organisations and internal/external functions that the employee would need to interact with to successfully get their job done]
  • An employee in this occupation will be responsible for… [provide brief details of the level of responsibility/autonomy that the individual will have including what resources they may manage, who they would report to and the extent to which they are supervised or acting alone (which is a key factor in determining the level of the occupation). Also include any factors that may lead to this varying (for example size of organisation)]

You need to decide whether you intend your occupational standard to take a core and options approach. This may be appropriate where there are related occupations, with a genuine core and options that all exist in the labour market. The core should be as large as it can be. Individual options must meet the requirements for an occupation, as defined in the table above, and not be too narrow. An apprentice will be required to acquire competence in the core and one of the options.

Duties are what individuals within the occupation commonly do in the workplace (competences and activities). They involve the application of knowledge, skills and behaviours. The occupational profile should typically list 10-20 duties. Fewer duties might not outline what is involved, whilst more might describe tasks in too fine a detail. Where you propose to take a core and options approach, you will have some core duties common to all options and some duties specific to each option. Duties need writing in the context of the workplace and must begin with a verb.

For each duty, you need to identify:

  • the key criteria for measuring performance – these relate to how the work is done and to what standard and will help you to determine how the end-point assessment is measured and graded. Such criteria may describe critical tasks that must be performed as part of the duty or could more generally cover things like speed, accuracy, service levels or compliance with regulation or procedures. Starting to identify these now will assist you with the end-point assessment planning and design and in particular the grading criteria.
  • the number of days of off-the-job training that will typically be required for the apprentice to achieve competence. Remember that all apprenticeship standards must require a minimum of one year’s employment with at least 20% off-the-job training prior to the apprentice taking the EPA.

To develop the occupational profile we suggest you:

  • ask every employer to bring along (or submit) their own job descriptions for the jobs that they align with the occupation
  • identify common duties within all or some of the job descriptions and produce a list; it may longer than the 10-20 needed for the occupational profile
  • decide collectively which duties make up the occupation
  • decide on important aspects of performance at work for each duty – the key performance requirements

Note on duties

You are likely to find that individual employer jobs might be bigger or smaller than the actual occupation as illustrated.

 duties graph

Each of the bars represents an employer and the height of each bar represents the number of duties that apply to that employer’s job role. Employer 6, 8 and 11’s job roles are bigger than the actual occupation, whereas employers 1, 3, 4 and 7’s job roles are smaller.

Where the employer’s job role involves duties above the requirements for the occupation, training for these duties could sit outside of the apprenticeship.

Where the employer’s job role is smaller than the occupational requirements, the employer will need to ensure the apprentice has off-the-job training and/or wider experience that develops the competences that will not be developed naturally or via on-the-job training in the job role. 


6. Additional information required in the template (route, duration, occupational level, transferability, stand-alone occupation)

Having developed you occupational profile, you should now be in position to provide the following additional information required in the template.


The Post-16 Skills Plan (published July 2016) included details of a new national framework for technical education, including the creation of a common framework of 15 new technical education routes. They are listed on our website

Routes are now used a as a means to organise all apprenticeship standards and college-based technical education at levels 2 to 5, for skilled occupations where there is a substantial requirement for technical knowledge and practical skills. Each route groups together occupations with similar, or related requirements, in terms of KSB's.

There is an occupational map, for each of the 15 technical routes. Each map sets out the occupations that are in a particular route. Within each route, pathways are used to group occupations into clusters that have similar KSB's, the cluster title is intended to cover all the occupations within that cluster.

Your apprenticeship standard will belong to one of the 15 routes, which you need to identify.

If you are unsure which route your proposed apprenticeship standard relates to please speak with your RM.


You need to indicate, what you believe will be the typical time that it will take to complete the apprenticeship standard in months, accepting that the actual duration of an apprenticeship may vary due to factors relating to the apprentice, employer and/or training. In this context, completing the apprenticeship standard means the period of on-and-off-the-job training up to, but not including, the end-point assessment. The occupation must require employment and training of at least a year’s duration with 20% of the time in off-the-job training.

Occupational level

Apprenticeship standards are normally at occupation levels 2-7. We do not expect many apprenticeship standards at level 8. You should not start the process of developing an apprenticeship standard with a fixed idea of what the occupation level is. However, you do need to identify your indicative occupation level when you submit your occupation proposal. To help you do this, we have developed guidance on apprenticeship standard levels.

If your draft occupational standard includes a mandatory qualification that accredits occupational competence then, this should be at the same level as the occupation. If your draft occupational standard includes a mandatory off-the-job technical qualification, the qualification level and occupation level will not necessarily be the same. Where the qualification level and occupation level differ, the level of the occupation will determine the level of the apprenticeship standard. There is scope to change the indicative level at a later stage of development in discussion with your RM. The relevant route panel will make the final decision on the occupational level assigned.


We expect that being competent in the duties you list in the occupation proposal will mean that an individual will be able to undertake a job in all relevant types of employer. This is to guard against the risk of an occupational standard consisting of the lowest common denominator of KSBs required of the employers involved. You will therefore need to outline the steps you have taken to ensure that the proposed apprenticeship standard is transferable. You may wish to do this by detailing the breadth of employer types directly and indirectly involved in the drafting process so far.

Stand-alone occupation

You need to confirm that the proposed apprenticeship standard relates to a stand-alone occupation and explain how it will fit in with any associated apprenticeship standards. Whilst some overlap of KSB's between apprenticeship standards is inevitable, we will not permit the development of new apprenticeship standards relating to occupations already covered by existing occupational standards. To help demonstrate this, you may wish to upload a diagram detailing how the proposed apprenticeship standard fits in with any related apprenticeship standards and reference where it fits within the relevant occupational map, so the relevant route panel can cross-reference your occupation proposal with this.

7. Submitting your occupation proposal

You need to complete and submit the occupation proposal part of apprenticeship builder and attach any supporting evidence. When you submit apprenticeship builder, you need to confirm that all the trailblazer group’s members have agreed to the submission’s content.

Your RM must confirm that your occupation proposal is ready for consideration before you submit it. Subject to this, you can submit the occupation proposal using apprenticeship builder at any time and we will consider it after the next submission deadline date.

Details of submission deadline dates, submission checklists and the approvals process.



Date Section Change


Apprenticeship builder replaced on-line template terminology


Developing an occupation proposal

Clarification that that the occupation proposal requirements apply to ‘new entrant to the occupation’ and not necessarily the sector


Developing the the occupational profile

Clarification that apprentices can only complete one option as part of the apprenticeship. This is because by definition each option has to be an occupation.