You will first need to submit an occupation enquiry form. 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. More information can be found on our developing an occupational proposal page.

If IfATE agrees there is sufficient evidence to warrant further investigation, you will then be asked to submit an occupational proposal to seek our approval to develop an occupational standard. The occupation must meet our requirements for us to agree to its development.

You need to make submissions using apprenticeship builder.

If we agree to your occupation proposal, the next stage is to develop the occupational standard and end-point assessment (EPA) plan and collect funding evidence. You should submit your occupational standard, EPA plan and funding evidence to our approvals process together, so we can consider them as a package. The occupational standard and EPA plan documents must meet our requirements for us to approve your apprenticeship.

We follow our funding process to make a funding band recommendation. We give a funding band recommendation to the Secretary of State for Education, who makes the final decision.

Our approvals process ensures that approved apprenticeships are high-quality and meet employers’ needs.

Each apprenticeship submission is subject to scrutiny by one of our 15 route panels. Route panels are made up of industry experts.

Route panels ensure the integrity of the occupational maps, making recommendations to Approvals Committee. In the case of funding the Approval Committee makes final recommendation for funding bands the Secretary of State considers all recommendations making the final decision.

The Approvals Policy and Assurance Committee takes a strategic overview ensuring key performance indicators are achieved, owns the audit process, sets approval criteria ensuring processes are adhered to.  

We aim to tell you of the decision on a submission within eight weeks of the submission deadline.

1. The role of the Approvals Committee

The Board has established the Approvals Committee (AC) as an IfATE Board. Its primary purpose is to exercise the Executive’s responsibilities for approving technical education products (Apprenticeships and Technical Qualifications) in accordance with the Scheme of Delegation.  This encompasses ensuring that the educational and skills products that are created through IfATE are fit for purpose and that the approval criteria set by the Board, and its committees, are applied correctly.  The Compliance Board will also oversee the maintenance of quality; consider operational-related policy; and monitor the performance of IfATE's approvals system. 

Standing membership include IfATE an independent external adviser, senior officials and chaired by the IfATE's Delivery Director.  

The Approvals Committee will:

  • confirm products (Occupational Standards, Apprenticeships, Higher Technical Qualifications, Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications) under development are consistent with relevant criteria, policy imperatives, and make approval decisions
  • make approval decisions on products
  • manage the flow of occupational standards, apprenticeships, funding band recommendations, Higher Technical Qualifications and Level 2 & 3 qualifications and statutory reviews in the pipeline for approval, whilst considering the wider implications of competing demands on route panel time
  • track dependencies, ensure a cross-route approach is undertaken to promote effective working links between the route groups
  • consider all improvement recommendations from the Approvals Policy and Assurance Committee and associated Panels



2. Role of Approvals Policy and Assurance Committee

The Board has established the Approvals Policy and Assurance Committee (APAC) as a Committee of the Board to monitor, advise and make recommendations to the Board and the Accounting Officer (Chief Executive) in respect of:

The development and application of the operating parameters governing the Institute’s approval processes for its apprenticeships and technical qualifications and their application.

The performance of the technical qualifications and apprenticeships approved by IfATE; and the continuous improvement of the Institute’s approval activities for technical qualifications and apprenticeships.

In its considerations and recommendations, the Committee will consider the IfATE's approval processes, assessment-related activities for technical qualifications and apprenticeships, and funding recommendations for apprenticeships.

The Committee will have due regard to (among other things): economic and employer priorities and ambition; quality; the delivery of an integrated skills system; and promoting cross-sector working; and outcomes for learners in its work.

Through its assurance activities, the Committee will have regard to the Institute’s statutory responsibilities, including the oversight of External Quality Assurance.

The work of the Committee will be supported by a number of specialist advisory Panels (Panels). The Committee will work closely with these Panels, both to support the work of the Committee and as a forum to which the Panels can bring issues.

Members of APAC are non-executive board members who take a strategic role within the assurance of the approvals process and associated activities. They have delegated authority as they have been identified as suitably qualified and experienced to undertake these duties.

The APAC Committee will advise the Institute Board and Chief Executive, reviewing and - where necessary - challenging:

  • the criteria that govern all aspects of approvals, assessment and funding activities for apprenticeships and technical qualifications
  • the impact and integrity of the Institute’s products, notably that they are high quality, meet employers’ priorities, serve the needs of learners and are coherent
  • the approvals process and related policies for the Institute’s products, ensuring fitness for purpose and assurance that relevant processes and policies are being followed
  • areas of interest to the Committee, related to the Institute’s approval activities
  • the Committee will also review its own effectiveness regularly and report the results of that review to the Board


3. The role of Route panels

Route panels are responsible for ensuring that apprenticeship standards, T-Levels and Higher Technical Qualifications are aligned, high quality and meet the needs of employers, apprentices and learners and the economy at large. They meet every eight weeks to consider submissions from trailblazer groups and technical education panels.

Route panel members operate strategically and collectively, using ‘occupational maps’ to:

  • review and make recommendations to the IfATE Approvals Committee on whether or not to approve apprenticeship proposals, standards and assessment plans, as well as the content of T Levels and Higher Technical Qualifications
  • make recommendations on funding bands for apprenticeship standards
  • support the review and changes to existing apprenticeship standards and T-Levels ensuring awarding organisations have consulted on any changes to course content.

They maintain a strategic overview of their occupational sector, identifying potential skills gaps or overlaps and ensuring that all our qualifications and products work together to provide clear pathways for career progression.

We aim to ensure that each route panel has the necessary skills and expertise to cover all of the occupations identified within the occupational maps. Where there are niche specialisms or gaps in panel expertise, panels may call on the additional insight and support of peer reviewers, specially commissioned for that purpose.  Occasionally, expertise is shared across panels where there is a degree of overlap in what is being considered.

Route panel members are sometimes also called on to act as ambassadors to the Institute, speaking at sector conferences and sharing their perspectives with other key stakeholders.

Our members offer their time and expertise on a voluntary basis, although we reimburse all reasonable travel and subsistence expenses and pay route panel chairs a nominal fee to cover the additional elements of their role.


4. Initial checks

Your Product Manager must agree your submission documents are ready for consideration before you submit them. If they have not done this, we will return the submission to you.

If we think there is significant work needed on your submission, or we need more supporting evidence, we will give feedback to you and ask you to submit it again for a future submission deadline date.


5. Online survey - occupational standards and EPA plans

Pre-submission we launch an online survey for each occupational standard and EPA submission.

We will let you know when surveys for your submissions go live. We encourage you to promote the surveys to increase responses.

The survey is to gather views on the occupation and give employers the opportunity to show an interest in joining the trailblazer group.

Your trailblazer group members must not complete the surveys, as they are a part of the development process.

The route panel receives a summary of the survey feedback.


6. Peer review

We will arrange for an independent third party to review your occupational standard and EPA plan to provide expert comment. The route panel(s) receive a summary of their comments.  

We intend to keep the identity and comments of peer reviewers anonymous, to enable them to provide open and objective feedback.

Ofqual will also review your end-point assessment (EPA) plan and provide advice, where they are your chosen external quality assurance provider.


7. Route panels and Approvals, Policy and Assurance Committee

Occupations are assigned to one of 15 routes. This is based on the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSB) needed for the occupation.

The occupations in each route are set out on the occupational maps.

For each route, we have a route panel.

The relevant route panel scrutinises your:

  • occupation proposal
  • occupational standard
  • EPA plan
  • funding evidence
  • any supporting evidence submitted with your submission. For example, job adverts or a professional body letter of support
  • a summary of survey feedback and your views on the survey feedback if provided
  • peer review comments

An occupation can only sit in one route however, other route’s panels may be asked to comment on your submissions where it is also of relevance to their route.

Your trailblazer chair presents the occupation proposal to the route panel and answers any questions they may have.

Route panel chairs may also invite your trailblazer chair to a route panel meeting to answer questions about their occupational standard, EPA plan and funding evidence submission.

The route panel makes recommendations to the Approvals Committee who decides whether or not to approve products ensuring due diligence has been followed for product development. The Approvals Policy and Assurance Committee have a strategic role to monitor key performance indicators, changes to the approvals process if needed, ownership of the audit programme and problem resolution.


8. What happens next?

Your occupation proposal, occupational standard and EPA plan will be either:

  • returned
  • approved with conditions
  • approved

If we return your submission, we will give you the reasons for that decision. This may include addressing the feedback and re-submitting it.  You need to submit re-submissions, in the same way, using the apprenticeship builder. The same approvals process applies to re-submissions.

Where your submission is ‘agreed with conditions,’ we will give feedback on any changes or extra information that we need.  Any changes required by the conditions are likely to be minor and will not be capable of impacting on the funding band recommendation.

We will share a summary of the survey responses with you. Where employers have shown an interest in joining the trailblazer group, we will discuss these with you.

Once we have agreed on the membership of the trailblazer group, we will work with you to submit your apprenticeship package, which includes:

Our funding band process (where relevant) and approvals process also apply to change requests. Where you are making a change to an occupational standard or EPA plan, it will need to meet all current criteria and requirements. Our change request guidance explains how we make decisions on whether to support change requests.


9. Approved for delivery

Each apprenticeship has a webpage.

Your apprenticeship will be ‘approved for delivery’ once:

  • your occupational standard and EPA plan are ‘approved’ and published
  • a final funding band is allocated by the Secretary of State

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

Where a revised apprenticeship is ‘approved for delivery’, there is a notice period before it replaces the old version.


10. Procedural review

If you are unhappy with any final decision made by the Institute in connection with your occupation proposal, occupational standard, EPA plan or funding band, you may be able to challenge the Institute’s decision by way of procedural review. Time frames for submitting a procedural review and details of the ground which must be met for a procedural review to be granted can be found in our guidance.


Copyright in occupational standards and EPA plans is transferred to the Institute by operation of law. This enables us to publish approved occupational standards and EPA plans.

The transfer of copyright to us does not change the fact that you have led the design of the apprenticeship.

Occupational standards and EPA plans are covered by the Open Government Licence, which enables you (and others) to use and publicise them freely.



Date Change
  • Minor page updates
  • Changed to eight weeks for us to tell you the decision of your submission
  • Restructuring of page
  • Encouragement to submit occupational standard and end-point assessment plan at the same time