Developing a new apprenticeship - overview slidepack

Flow chart of standard development

The Institute’s ‘developing new apprenticeship standards’ guidance is for groups of employers seeking agreement from us to develop an apprenticeship standard for a particular occupation and ‘trailblazer groups’ who have secured that agreement and are now developing an occupational standard and end-point assessment (EPA) plan.

We operate according to criteria set out by the Department for Education (DfE), which underpin our arrangements for the development and approval of apprenticeship standards. We also use a number of second order rules, which play a part in the approvals process. Together, these are our ‘requirements.’

The requirements and processes detailed in this guidance apply to all trailblazer groups from March 2018.

The requirements for each stage of the process are set out and explained in the relevant sections of the guidance. It also contains tips on how to undertake the development, details of our approvals process and the support that we will provide.

It has ten sections, this page outlines what is in each of the other sections.

1. Developing a new apprenticeship standard

Developing a new apprenticeship standard requires time and commitment. It is, however, a rewarding process as you help to ensure apprenticeships deliver the competence employers, like you, need.

Our relationship managers (RMs) are available to guide you through the entire process, from developing a proposal for an occupation for a new apprenticeship standard through to it being ‘approved for delivery.’

Our quality statement defines what an apprenticeship is and what it is not:

"An apprenticeship is a job with training to industry standards. It should be in a recognised occupation, involve a substantial programme of on and off-the-job training and the apprentice’s occupational competence should be tested by an independent, end-point assessment. Apprenticeships are employer-led: employers set the standards, create the demand for apprentices to meet their skills needs, fund the apprenticeship and are responsible for employing and training the apprentice. But the needs of the apprentice are equally important: to achieve competence in a skilled occupation, which is transferable and secures long term earnings power, greater security and the capability to progress in the workplace.
Not all training is an apprenticeship. Work experience alone, shorter duration training for a job, attending a course, or assessing and certificating an employee who is already working in the occupation, are all positive forms of learning and accreditation at work but they are not apprenticeships”.
Institute for Apprenticeships Quality Statement

Forming a trailblazer group

In order to develop an apprenticeship standard, you must be a group of employers recognised by the Institute and reflective of those who employ people in the occupation that you want to develop an apprenticeship in – a ‘trailblazer group’. In this section, you can find information on forming a trailblazer group, our support and expectations guide and some recommended ways of working.

Developing an apprenticeship occupation proposal

Apprenticeship standards are based on occupations. An occupation must meet certain requirements in order for us to agree its development as an apprenticeship standard. This section explains how you can test an occupation against these requirements.

If you think the occupation is suitable for the development of an apprenticeship standard and if your RM agrees, you are ready to complete the first stage of development.

You will need to develop an occupational profile, enter it in apprenticeship builder and submit your occupation proposal, along with any supporting evidence required. We will confirm whether we agree that the occupation meets the requirements for apprenticeship standard development. These aspects are explained in this section, along with the background information relating to the occupation and your trailblazer group that you must give to your RM prior to submitting your occupation proposal.

Developing an apprenticeship occupational standard

Apprenticeship standards are based on occupational standards. An occupational standard is a short and concise document that describes what someone who is competent in the occupation does – ‘duties’, and the ‘knowledge, skills and behaviours’ (KSBs) required to carry out the duties competently; along with any qualifications that must be taken and alignment with professional recognition if applicable.

Once we have agreed that an occupation is suitable for an apprenticeship standard, the second stage is to develop the occupational standard. The requirements for occupational standards, how to develop one, using the apprenticeship builder and submitting it along with supporting evidence that may be required, are detailed in this section. It also covers how to undertake consultation, so that employers not directly involved in your group can provide input.

Occupational standards will also be used to derive the standards for the new ‘T levels’ to be delivered in full time further education courses. See here for more information on technical education.

Developing an end-point assessment plan

All apprentices must take an independent assessment at the end of their training to confirm that they have achieved occupational competence. Rigorous and robust independent EPA is essential to give employers confidence that apprentices completing an apprenticeship standard can actually perform in the occupation in which they have been trained and can demonstrate the duties and KSBs set out in the occupational standard.

You need to develop an EPA plan to test competence against your occupational standard. Although it is the third stage, you can develop and submit it alongside your occupational standard or develop it once this has been agreed.

This section takes you through the requirements for EPA, how to develop a plan, using the apprenticeship builder and submitting it and supporting evidence that may be required.

Recommending a funding band

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

When we agree your occupational proposal, we will advise you of our ‘initial funding band allocation.’ If you think the initial funding band is not right, you can provide evidence using our funding evidence forms when you submit your EPA plan. We will consider this evidence, alongside other factors, when we make our ‘final funding band recommendation.'

Information on apprenticeship funding and details of when and how to complete funding evidence forms are contained in this section.

Submitting the template and the approvals process  

You need to make your submissions using apprenticeship builder. It has three different parts to generate the occupation proposal, occupational standard and EPA plan documents. Circumstances where apprenticeship builder may not be used are detailed in Revisions/submissions not using apprenticeship builder.

Your RM must confirm that your draft is ready for consideration before you submit it at each stage. Subject to this, you can submit the completed template at any time and we will consider it after the next submissions deadline.

How to use the template and upcoming submission deadline dates are detailed in this section, along with details of the processes and timelines we follow when making decisions on submissions.

An apprenticeship is ‘approved for delivery’ once the occupational standard and EPA plan are agreed and the funding band is confirmed. The occupational standard, EPA plan and funding band are published as they are agreed.

Promoting new apprenticeship standards

We expect you to promote your new apprenticeship standard to other key stakeholders - training providers, end-point assessment organisations and other employers. It is important to start this process as you are developing your apprenticeship standard, rather than leaving it until it is approved for delivery. Tips on promoting your apprenticeship standard to these different groups are in this section.


This section contains useful guides and tools to help you. These are sign-posted from the other sections. It includes a link to our apprenticeship builder, which you must use for submitting an occupation proposal, occupational standard and EPA plan. It also includes our glossary of terms.

Revisions/submissions not using apprenticeship builder 

A submissions portal, rather than apprenticeship builder, can be used for submitting word versions of:

  • revisions to a published occupational standard, except where adding an option or options; all changes must be highlighted
  • revisions to a published EPA plan; all changes must be highlighted
  • end-point assessment (EPA) plans already drafted before apprenticeship builder became available, with the permission of your RM

We intend that revisions to published occupational standards and EPA plans will ultimately be submitted via apprenticeship builder and will advise further in due course.

This section contains the submission portal links – one for occupational standards and one for  EPA plans.

2. The changes we have made

This guidance contains significant updates to our previous guidance for trailblazers – ‘How to guide for trailblazers’ last published in June 2017. Regardless of which stage you are at in the development process, it is essential that you ensure you are familiar with the new requirements and processes. A full summary of the changes is available and includes:

  • simpler criteria that are easier to apply
  • introduction of a more logical process to achieve the right outcome; that is, a greater focus on getting the definition of the apprenticeship occupation right at the first stage and then deriving the KSBs at the occupational standard stage from the duties identified earlier on
  • introduction of a new online intuitive template
  • more user-friendly online guidance on all aspects of the development process and brand new guidance where needed for example on occupational levels
  • elimination of various second order rules for example requirement for 10 letters of support at the occupational standard submission stage and the requirement for an occupational standard to be confined to three pages
  • introduction of a support and expectations guide so that trailblazer groups and the Institute have a better of understanding of what they can reasonably expect from each other

These changes take account of feedback we have received from you during our first year of operation and in particular from our survey of trailblazer groups undertaken in the summer of 2017.


Date Change
  • Apprenticeship builder replaced on-line template terminology
  • Content outline for revisions/submissions not using apprenticeship builder section added