The ‘developing new apprenticeship standards’ guidance contains significant updates to our previous guidance for trailblazer groups – ‘how to guide for trailblazers’ last published in June 2017. In addition to various requirements and process simplifications, we have made it more accessible via the online format broken down into different sections.

Below is a summary of the changes made within each section.

Developing new apprenticeship standards - overview

  • Changes to the criteria set out by the Department of Education (DfE), which underpin the Institute’s arrangements for the development and approval of apprenticeship standards, along with changes to a number of second order rules, which play a part in the approvals process. Together these are referred to as our requirements.
  • Clearer terminology as outlined throughout the document and in our terminology and abbreviations guide, for example occupation proposal and occupational standard.

Forming a trailblazer group

  • Simpler requirements for trailblazer groups, with information on how we will test this, for example removal of fixed requirement to have a minimum of 10 employers including two small.
  • New guidance on the requirements for trailblazer group chairs.
  • Introduction of a ‘support and expectations guide’ setting out the commitment and collaboration that the Institute and a trailblazer group can reasonably expect from each other.
  • Introduction of a membership list - individual trailblazer group members can choose whether they wish to be on our membership list, to enable us to keep them up-to-date about key apprenticeship developments.
  • Introduction of webinars and workshops to speed up the development of occupational standards and end-point assessment (EPA) plans.
  • A process outlining how and why we may withdraw our support for a trailblazer group to develop an apprenticeship standard.
  • Acknowledged the role of over-arching chairs for trailblazer groups in some sectors.
  • Added a position statement on the use of facilitators.

Developing an occupation proposal

  • Greater focus on accurately defining the occupation at the outset of the process, including duties someone in the occupation undertakes.
  • Greater flexibility to approve separate apprenticeship standards for different occupations that happen to share some knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs).
  • Enhanced guidance on what is a suitable occupation for an apprenticeship, including a table clearly setting out the differences between an occupation and a job.
  • Guidance on how to develop a ‘new look’ occupational profile, including how to identify the duties.
  • A new requirement to provide various pieces of information that will enable us to consider whether the occupation requires 12 months’ training with 20% off-the-job training.
  • New guidance on occupational levels.
  • Added a requirement to confirm main business activity/business size when supplying background information on trailblazer group members.
  • Added a requirement to provide an estimate of annual starts on the proposed apprenticeship standard.
  • Provided clarification that an occupation proposal needs to be submitted if you are seeking to add an option to an existing core and options apprenticeship standard.

Developing an occupational standard

  • Replacement of the requirement for 10 letters of support from trailblazer group members with a simple confirmation of support from the chair.
  • A new process for deriving the KSBs directly from the duties in the occupational profile approved at the proposal stage.
  • Enhanced guidance on developing an occupational standard.
  • Introduction of a new category to allow the mandating of qualifications – a technical off-the-job qualification that provides greater breadth (for example knowledge and/or skills) than is likely to be covered in the workplace; and/or provides structure for off-the-job training where there is little history of this for the occupation.
  • Clarification that the criteria for mandating a qualification applies to degrees.
  • New guidance on information that must be included regarding mandated qualifications.
  • Requirement to provide early thoughts on criteria for performance and assessment methods that might be used in the EPA at this stage, for early route panel feedback.
  • Provided further explanation regarding professional registration alignment.

Developing an end-point assessment plan

  • New requirement for EPA plans to allow for reasonable adjustments for conducting an EPA in compliance with equality legislation.
  • Enhanced guidance on how to develop an EPA plan, including guidance on different assessment methods and the information required within the EPA plan for each.
  • Removal of professional body alignment and implementation sections within the EPA plan template. 
  • Removal of the requirement to grade every assessment method above pass however, at least one synoptic assessment method must be graded.
  • Clarification of the requirements for assessors in the case of an integrated degree.
  • Provided clarification on grading criteria for core and options apprenticeship standards.

Providing funding evidence and allocating a funding band 

  • Provision of an initial funding band allocation when the proposal is agreed; calculated using information provided as part of the proposal submission.
  • Removal of the requirement to submit costing forms when the standard is submitted for agreement.
  • New funding evidence forms to make obtaining provider quotes easier. It has two parts the ‘Apprenticeship Training Plan’ and the ‘Apprenticeship Training Delivery quote.’
  • Option to submit funding evidence forms when the end-point assessment plan is submitted for agreement.
  • Notification of the final funding band recommendation when the end-point assessment plan is agreed.

Submitting a completed template and the approvals process 

  • A new online intuitive template to develop and submit documents for agreement. It has three parts: occupation profile, occupational standard and end-point assessment plan. Where information provided is required for subsequent stages it will be auto-populated into the next parts of the template and should more effectively ensure that you provide the right information at the right time.
  • Requirement for the chair to confirm that the group supports the submission via the template; removing the requirement for letters of support.
  • Submission deadlines for 2018 – six-weekly.
  • Revised submission checklists reflecting the changes made at each stage.
  • Confirmed the submission process when seeking to revise an approved occupational standard and/or end-point assessment plan.

Updated contact details:

Promoting apprenticeship standards

  • No material changes.


  • Useful guides and tools to help you. These are sign-posted from the other sections.
  • A terminology and abbreviations guide.
  • Added new guides on questioning and portfolios
  • Made various improvements to the occupation proposal and occupational standard stages of our new online template to address issues raised during the pilot.  These stages of the new template are now compulsory for all submissions (apart from proposed amendments to published documents) and we are commencing a pilot on the EPA plan stage of the template this week
  • Updated process for submitting bank details