Developing an apprenticeship needs time and commitment. However, it is a rewarding process. You will be helping to ensure apprenticeships deliver the knowledge, skills, and behaviours employers need.

This guidance is for:

  • groups of employers (trailblazers) looking to develop an apprenticeship for a particular occupation
  • trailblazer groups who have agreement from us and are now developing an occupational standard and end-point assessment plan and gathering evidence to inform the funding band recommendation
  • trailblazer groups who want to revise or amend an apprenticeship that is approved for delivery

Our product managers (PMs) will help you through the entire process. From developing an occupation proposal for a new apprenticeship through to it being ‘approved for delivery'. 


Before starting, we recommend you read our quality statement which explains what a high-quality apprenticeship looks like.

You can find more information and guides on apprenticeships in our resources section.


1. Trailblazer groups

Trailblazer groups are responsible for developing apprenticeships.

To become a trailblazer group, you must be a group of employers recognised by us and representative of employers of the occupation.

We expect trailblazer group employers to employ apprentices in the occupation once it is developed. We also ask that you actively promote the apprenticeship


2. Developing an occupation proposal

Apprenticeships are based on occupations.

If you think an occupation is suitable for the development of an apprenticeship, the first stage of the process is to submit an enquiry.  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.

If ifATE agrees that your occupation is suitable for development, you will then be asked to develop an occupation proposal.

The proposal will go through our approvals process, we will then advise whether the occupation meets the requirements for us to agree to its development as an apprenticeship.


3. Developing an occupational standard

An occupational standard is a short and concise document. It describes the ‘knowledge, skills and behaviours’ (KSBs) needed for someone to be competent in the occupation’s duties. It also details any qualifications that must be passed in order to complete an apprenticeship in the occupation and how it aligns with professional recognition if applicable.

If we agree that an occupation is suitable for an apprenticeship, we will support you in developing the occupational standard and end-point assessment (EPA), as well as getting funding evidence to inform our funding band recommendation. Developing your occupational standard and EPA plan together ensures a coherent apprenticeship.


4. Developing an end-point assessment plan

You will need to develop an EPA plan, detailing the independent assessment that apprentices must take after their training. This will confirm whether they have achieved the KSBs needed to undertake the occupational standard’s duties.


5. Allocating a funding band

Each apprenticeship is allocated to one of 30 funding bands. We give a funding band recommendation to the Secretary of State for Education, who makes the final decision.

To help us reach our funding band recommendation for your apprenticeship, you need to provide evidence. This must include at least three training provider quotes and at least one end-point assessment organisation quote.

We will consider this evidence, alongside other factors, when we make our funding band recommendation.

There are more details in our current Funding Model Guidance


6. Apprenticeship builder and submissions

You need to make your submissions using apprenticeship builder. The builder helps you generate the occupation proposal, occupational standard and EPA plan documents. You must upload supporting evidence, including funding evidence. Your occupational standard, EPA plan and funding evidence should be submitted together, so we can consider them as a package.

You need to book two approval cycle submission slots with your PM. One for your occupational proposal submission; and the second for your occupational standard, end-point assessment plan and funding evidence submission.

Your PM must confirm that your draft documents are ready for consideration before you submit them.


7. The approvals process

Our 15 route panels represent the employer voice within the Institute. Panel members are employers with relevant occupational experience and are experts in their industry. Route panels are responsible for making sure apprenticeships are high-quality and meet the needs of employers, apprentices, and the economy.

They will consider submissions from trailblazers. Then they make a recommendation to the Approvals and Funding Committee who make the final decision.

We aim to let you know of the decision within eight weeks of the submission deadline date.

An apprenticeship is ‘approved for delivery’ once the occupational standard and EPA plan are approved and the funding band has been allocated by the Secretary of State and, in the case of revisions, a suitable notice period has been served. They are published in the apprenticeship standard section on our website.

Apprentices will not be funded on a new apprenticeship until:

  • an end-point assessment organisation has given a commitment (in principle) to deliver the EPA
  • or an end-point assessment organisation has made a successful application to the register


8. Promoting new apprenticeships

We expect you to promote your new apprenticeship to other key stakeholders such as training providers, end-point assessment organisations, other employers, and potential apprentices.

It is important to start promoting as you are developing your apprenticeship, rather than leaving it until it is approved for delivery.

We have created some tools for promoting your new apprenticeship which include a PR toolkit and helpful tips for connecting with schools.


9. Revisions, adjustments and dispensations

From time to time, changes may need to be made to an apprenticeship that is approved for delivery.

A change request may lead to a revision, adjustment, or dispensation.

Last updated 14 Oct 2022