If we agree your occupation proposal, the next stage is to develop the occupational standard and end-point assessment (EPA) plan and collect funding evidence. Doing these together ensures a coherent package.

Occupational standards are used by:

  • potential apprentices, parents/guardians, schools, careers advisers, employees, and employers as a description of the occupation
  • end-point assessment organisations (EPAO) as they produce assessment tools, such as written tests and observations
  • external quality assurance providers (EQAP) to determine and inform monitoring activity
  • T Level panels to develop the standards and outline content for T Level programmes
  • employers and training providers to:
    • analyse individual jobs for apprenticeship standard coverage/suitability
    • assess the prior learning of apprentices at the start of their apprenticeship
    • design and deliver the on-and-off-the-job training

Your relationship manager (RM) can lead a workshop to help you develop your occupational standard.

You need to use apprenticeship builder to develop your occupational standard and EPA plan. You also use it to submit them to the approvals process, along with your funding evidence and any supporting evidence.

Any information entered in apprenticeship builder at the occupational proposal stage that is needed for the occupational standard will carry through. However, you may need to refine the information as you develop the occupational standard. For example, to address any feedback received from us or if you identify changes are needed.

1. Apprenticeship occupational standard requirements

Short, concise and clear

The occupational standard must:be short, concise and clear and written to the Institute’s format

We will assess this by:determining that it has been expressed concisely and clearlyconfirming that the occupational standard meets the format required

Clear occupational profile

The occupational standard must:be based on a clear occupational profile setting out the duties carried out by employees in the occupation and including the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) which will be applied in the workplace and are derived directly from the duties

We will assess this by:assessing whether any feedback received at occupation proposal stage has been incorporatedverifying that the occupation continues to meet our occupation requirementsconfirming that the KSBs are developed directly from each of the duties in the occupational profileconfirming that the KSBs statements meet our guidance in terms of format and structure

Define full competence

The occupational standard must:define the full competence in an apprenticeship occupation so that, on completion, the new entrant to the occupation is able to carry out the role in any size of employer across any relevant sector

We will assess this by:assessing that the occupation is in demand from a range of employers using commonly understood or similar occupation/job titles and with substantially common duties, and KSBsverifying that the full KSBs required for a new entrant to the occupation (beyond generally expected prior knowledge & skills) is agreed across a range of employers, including reviewing the outcomes of your consultation

Align with regulatory requirements and professional recognition

The occupational standard must:align with regulatory requirements and professional recognition and allows the individual to apply for this

We will assess this by:scrutinising the supporting evidence to confirm that the occupational standard meets the requirements of regulatory or professional bodies

 

2. Knowledge, skills and behaviours

You need to set out the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) required to be competent in the occupation profile’s duties. The KSBs will form the basis of the apprenticeship’s on-and-off-the-job training.

Knowledge - the information, technical detail, and ‘know-how’ that someone needs to have and understand to successfully carry out the duties. Some knowledge will be occupation-specific, whereas some may be more generic.

Skills - the practical application of knowledge needed to successfully undertake the duties. They are learnt through on- and/or off-the-job training or experience.

Behaviours - mindsets, attitudes or approaches needed for competence. Whilst these can be innate or instinctive, they can also be learnt. Behaviours tend to be very transferable. They may be more similar across apprenticeship standards than knowledge and skills. For example, team worker, adaptable and professional.

The EPA for your apprenticeship standard will test an apprentice’s competency against the KSBs, rather than the duties. It is important to consider how they will be assessed as you develop them.

Occupational standards typically have:

  • 15 to 20 knowledge statements
  • 15 to 20 skill statements
  • five to six behaviour statements.

It is not necessary for knowledge statements to always have a corresponding skill or behaviour statement. Knowledge may underpin several skills and behaviours.

You need to identify (map) the KSBs required to undertake each duty. Each KSB is likely to be needed for more than one duty. Only map the most relevant KSBs to each duty. You need to ensure that each KSB is mapped to at least one duty.

How to write good KSBs:

  • the readability of an apprenticeship 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
  • describe them in terms of someone who is fully competent in the occupation
  • list each KSB subject in a separate statement. For example, group health and safety-related knowledge together
  • do not put ‘knows or understands’ at the start of knowledge statements, as this is clear from the heading. Similarly, do not put ‘can’ or ‘be able to’ at the start of each skill statement
  • be as specific as possible
  • knowledge statements should be as definitive as possible. Avoid using words like ‘including and ‘for example’ where possible
  • words like ‘including’ and ‘for example’ can be used in skill and behaviour statements. However, they should not be needed for all KSBs and should only be used where it helps understanding
  • be careful with your choice of words. If a KSB statement is worded ‘including a, b, c’ – then ‘a, b, c’ must be tested in the EPA. Use ‘for example a, b or c’ where there are a range of things that could be demonstrated to show competence. It is sufficient to put ‘including…’ rather than ‘including but not limited to…’
  • start skill statements with an active verb, for example, ‘communicate…’ not communicating
  • do not repeat duties as skill statements – they should be different
  • avoid being too context-specific. For instance, ‘communicates with colleagues in team meetings,’ would mean the EPA would have to include an assessment of communicating with colleagues in a team meeting. Whereas the skill communicate could be tested in many contexts
  • only include KSBs at their highest level. Do not include KSBs that progress to a higher order KSB
  • avoid using wording that could mean a statement becomes out of date quickly. For example, including the number of a piece of legislation or the year it was passed may not be required in sectors where legislation is amended frequently
  • avoid vague and absolute statements that could be open to interpretation. ‘Relevant legislation’ and ‘all types of materials’ are examples of vague and absolute statements
  • avoid stating how well a KSB should be performed, as this needs to be detailed in the grading descriptors in the EPA plan

Further guidance

The skills builder universal framework has guidance on common skills and behaviours. These include teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, creativity, speaking, listening, aiming high, and staying positive.

 

3. Consulting on your occupational standard

You must consult on your occupational standard. This is to give employers who are not part of your trailblazer group and other interested organisations an opportunity to input. This may include trade associations, professional bodies, training providers, and EPAOs.

It is up to you how you carry out the consultation. It may, for example, be via an on-line survey or holding workshops. 

You will need to reflect on the comments you receive and make any changes you want to your occupational standard.

In your submission, you need to include details of who and how you have consulted, what the results were, and changes made to the occupational standard as a result. Apprenticeship builder has a section to enter this information.

During the approvals process, we take account of evidence from your consultation.

 

4. English and maths

The government’s minimum English and maths qualification level requirements for an apprenticeship are:

  • for level 2, achieve level 1 English and maths and take the test for level 2 before taking their EPA
  • for level 3 to 7, achieve level 2 English and maths before taking their EPA
  • for those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL. 

The text needed for the apprenticeship level will be pre-entered in apprenticeship builder.

 

5. Additional qualifications

In some cases a qualification may be mandated for all apprentices on an apprenticeship standard. Where mandated, it must be completed as a ‘gateway’ requirement before the apprentice takes the EPA. Potentially mandated qualifications fall into the following two broad types:

Type 1 – a qualification that accredits occupational competence, for example an NVQ (National Vocational Qualification: still available as a brand within the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). Summative assessment in these qualifications duplicates EPA and costs a relatively large amount of money to deliver, drawing resources away from training.

Type 2 - covers off-the job technical qualifications (for example ‘day release’ qualifications) and short awards (for example food safety and manual handling certificates) which are usually delivered off-the-job. These qualifications do not accredit occupational competence, do not duplicate EPA and add very little to the cost of the apprenticeship standard, as the off-the-job training would be required and funded anyway.

Qualifications of either type may be mandated where they are:

  1. a regulatory requirement; or
  2. a requirement of a professional body; or
  3. required by employers in the labour market on such a widespread basis that an apprentice would be significantly disadvantaged without it. This is known as the ‘hard sift’ criterion.

In addition, type 2 qualifications that do not meet one of these criteria may still be mandated where they:

  • add no significant cost or volume to the off-the-job training that would be required without the qualification; and
  • provide fuller occupational coverage assisting in achievement of the whole occupational standard, that is more duties, knowledge and/or skills than is likely to be covered in the workplace; and/or
  • provide structure for off-the-job training where there is little history of this for the occupation

A technical qualification of this type can be at a different level (if higher, normally only one level higher) to the occupational level of the apprenticeship standard as a whole.

The inclusion of a qualification based on being a regulatory, professional body or hard sift requirement in an occupational standard should usually only be a temporary requirement (with the exception of degree apprenticeships). The apprenticeship standard itself should be designed to meet the requirements of a regulatory or professional body and employers in the sector. Over time, as apprenticeship standards gain currency, individuals will no longer be disadvantaged in the job market by not having a specific qualification, and the need to mandate it should fall away. However, we understand that there may be some situations, for example. a fixed legislative requirement, where this may not be possible.

In the case of both types, qualifications cannot be mandated unless they are already available for use by employers and training providers.

This table sets out our qualifications in an apprenticeship standard requirements 

Regulatory requirement

Professional body requirement

‘hard sift’

Provides full breadth and/or structure for off-the-job

Levels

Type 1: Occupational Competence Qualification, including Integrated Degree Apprenticeships

If the regulatory body will not recognise the apprenticeship itself

Evidence required

If the professional body will not recognise the apprenticeship itself

Evidence required

Evidence required

Only for a limited time

(except degree apprenticeships)

No

The qualification must be at the same level as the apprenticeship standard occupation

Type 2: Off-the-job Technical Qualification, including Non-integrated Degree Apprenticeships

If the regulatory body will not recognise the apprenticeship itself

Evidence required

If the professional body will not recognise the apprenticeship itself

Evidence required

Evidence required

 

Trailblazer groups should make a case which shows full occupational  breadth and/or structure re off-the-job

The qualification does not need to be the same level as the apprenticeship occupation but normally only a single level if higher

Where you are seeking to mandate a qualification, you will need to include information about it in the qualifications section of apprenticeship builder and provide evidence for its inclusion. The route panel will use the evidence you provided to form a view about whether the qualification can be mandated or not.

Where there is no mandated qualification in an apprenticeship standard, an employer and training provider can still choose to use one, provided the content aligns with the occupational standard and the employer pays the registration and certification fees.

If your occupational standard includes a mandatory qualification that accredits occupational competence, this should be at the same level as the occupation. If it includes a mandatory off-the-job technical qualification, the qualification level and occupation level does not need to be the same.

Degree qualifications

The requirements for mandating a degree qualification are the same as for other apprenticeship standards.

When a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree is mandated, the apprenticeship is called a ‘degree apprenticeship standard.’

Degree apprenticeships can be structured in one of two ways – non-integrated and integrated, as determined by the trailblazer group and set out on the occupational standard and in the end-point assessment plan (EPA). 

A degree within an apprenticeship standard will usually be mandated on the basis that it is a regulatory or professional registration requirement, given how widespread regulated or professional status is at this level. Where this is not the case, it is then possible that the degree may meet the ‘hard sift’ criterion.

For non-integrated degree apprenticeships, if one of the three primary criteria are not met then it is also possible to consider the criterion for mandating ‘off-the-job’ technical qualifications. This should not increase the cost significantly over and above what that cost would be for the required off-the-job training without the qualification. Integrated degrees cannot meet the criteria for type 2 qualifications, as they assess competence.

Where you are seeking to mandate a degree, you will need to include all the details of the qualification as detailed in apprenticeship builder and provide evidence for its inclusion as detailed. The route panel will use the evidence provided by you to form a view about whether the qualification can be mandated or not.

Individual employers and training providers can choose to use a degree qualification voluntarily as part of an apprenticeship standard when it is not mandated, providing the degree content aligns with all or part of the content of the occupational standard. In these circumstances the registration and certification fees cannot be funded.

6. Professional recognition alignment

The occupational standard needs to align to professional recognition where it exists for the occupation. You will need to work with the relevant body or bodies to ensure this.

Alignment means that achievement of the apprenticeship standard will enable professional registration at that level.

In some cases, the apprenticeship standard may only provide partial alignment. That means, whilst achievement of the apprenticeship standard provides evidence of competence, someone might need further experience after the apprenticeship before they are eligible to apply for professional recognition. If this is the case, this needs to be stated in the occupational standard.

You need to provide evidence that the professional body or bodies agree to how the apprenticeship standard aligns with their professional recognition. This needs to be via a letter from each relevant body. If a qualification is being included at the request of the professional body, the same letter can cover both points. Suggested wording for the professional body support letter is provided. Make sure you ask any professional body for such a letter well in advance of when you plan to submit your documents.

Unless professional registration is a legislative requirement for the occupation, the apprenticeship standard cannot mandate registration. It is for the apprentice to decide whether they wish to apply for professional registration once they have completed their apprenticeship.

7. Recommendations for training

You must not include any recommendations for training or curriculum specification, or on-programme assessment in your occupational standard or EPA plan.