1. Overview

IfATE is committed to delivering for employers. To help us, organisations can apply to be part of our directory of professional and employer-led bodies (the ‘employer directory’).

Professional, employer-led and occupational bodies that have a role in maintaining standards of occupational competence and an interest in skills development should apply.


What does an employer directory organisation (EDO) do?

We invite EDOs to provide occupational expertise for a range of products and purposes. This will ensure apprenticeship assessment and technical qualifications are relevant to the occupation.

We hold regular events to bring together EDOs and share information. These events also provide an opportunity for networking among the employer directory organisations.

We share consultations and let organisations know about key policy and other developments. Employer directory organisations can then share this information with their own networks.

Organisations can apply to support IfATE, Ofqual and the Office for Students (OfS) in the external quality assurance (EQA) of apprenticeship assessments. Further details about the role of EDOs in supporting EQA activity are in Annex 2.

Organisations who cannot support EQA activity can still apply. They can provide advice to IfATE on other products and attend our events.

If you would like to apply, please complete an application, or email us to discuss further.


2. Membership criteria

We seek to partner with industry recognised professional organisations. We will assess an organisation’s application on three overarching criteria:

  • it represents employers from across the occupation, or represents an occupation or sector
  • it has the experience and the capability to fulfil its role as an occupational expert or source of occupational expertise
  • it declares any actual or potential conflict of interest. There must be no conflict of interest for EQA activities

Annex 1 provides further information on the membership criteria and the evidence required. 


3. How to apply

Application process for organisations

Organisations should check they meet the membership criteria and then complete an application.

Applications are always open and there are no set submission dates.

We will assess the application against the membership criteria. If we need more information, we will contact the organisation and provide support.

We will then make a recommendation to a decision panel of deputy directors. The decision panel meets every month. It decides whether to approve the application, approve with conditions, or refuse it.

We will confirm the panel’s decision in writing. We will explain the reasons if the panel refuses an application.

We will usually seek advice on an organisation’s suitability and capability to support EQA activity. We will ask the product manager or trailblazer for their input. This is because trailblazer groups are reflective of those who employ people in a particular occupation.

All approved organisations are required to attend an induction session.

There is no appeals process. If a trailblazer wishes to challenge a final decision of IfATE relating to the employer directory, it can do so via procedural review.


4. Payment

Activity to support Ofqual and the OfS in the EQA of apprenticeship assessment is paid. Ofqual or the OfS will discuss the work and payment arrangements with the organisation.

The volume of EQA activity will vary and depends on a variety of factors. These include:

  • the number of end-point assessment organisations active against a particular standard
  • long-term priorities in the plan of EQA activity
  • any specific needs for more frequent EQA

Following the completion of the activity, Ofqual or the OfS will issue payment.

There is no fee for being a member of the employer directory.

IfATE does not expect to make payments to EDOs for work on non EQA activity. 


5. Annex 1: application form guidance


When they apply, organisations must explain how they meet three overarching criteria. These are:


a. They represent employers from across the occupation, or represent an occupation or sector

Organisations on the employer directory must:

  • have been established for purposes which are relevant to the required activities
  • have credibility with employers 

and will usually have ongoing relationships with industry. 

Although this list is not exhaustive, we expect applications from:

  • organisations regulating entry to, and exit from, a particular profession
  • trade associations made up of (and funded by) members who are employers in a given sector
  • Chartered Institutes, whose members are individual professionals in a given sector
  • guild or livery companies
  • organisations with an established industry levy
  • intermediary bodies. These to have a focus on supporting skills development and representing a sector
  • professional membership bodies recognised as setting standards for that profession

Evidence required:

Applicants must explain how their organisation represents the sector or profession. Organisations can provide a range of evidence to do this. For example:

  • their governance structure
  • oversight responsibilities
  • details of any charters granted
  • relevant statutory functions
  • board members with roles across a range of employers
  • range of employers worked with
  • number of members from across the sector

b. The organisation has the experience and the capability to fulfil its role as an occupational expert. It can source individuals with appropriate skills and experience

Evidence required:

Applicants must explain their organisation’s ability to carry out the selected functions. They can describe their experience, any accreditation they offer and their reach across the sector. They can provide an organisational structure and explain the role of industry boards or committees they may use.

Access to appropriate individuals:

We will also ask the organisation about the individuals they will use. We do not need to know names. Organisations will need to assure IfATE they can provide individuals with:

  • recent and close experience of the occupation
  • an industry-wide perspective
  • an understanding of assessing best practice or expertise acquired through significant time in the industry

Individuals must be impartial with no conflict of interest. They must have sound judgement and able to deal with complex issue on time.  Individuals may be sought from staff, the organisation’s membership or other networks.

Organisations do not need to identify individuals at the point of application. They will need to explain:

  • how they will source these individuals and assess their suitability
  • the training or professional development individuals have to ensure current knowledge
  • how they ensure individuals have no conflict of interest

Individuals supporting Ofqual or OfS with EQA activity do so on behalf of the organisation.  The organisation is accountable for the quality of that work. 


c. There is no conflict of interest that would prevent the organisation from operating in this role

There are two types of conflict of interest:

  1. An actual conflict. A conflict (financial or otherwise) which has arisen between an organisation’s (or individual’s) employer directory duties and their other interests
  2. A potential (or perceived) conflict. Where an actual conflict is foreseeable but uncertain (and not yet actual)  
    Both organisations and individuals could have a conflict of interest. Organisations and/or individuals cannot carry out EQA activity where the conflict is:
  • material
  • and cannot be mitigated

Organisations must disclose any actual or potential conflicts of interest when applying. If there is a conflict, IfATE will assess this from the information in the application form. We will also consider any other relevant material available.

Organisations have an ongoing responsibility to disclose conflicts of interest to IfATE. Individuals may also need to comply with conflict of interest obligations as required by Ofqual or the OfS.

For further advice about conflicts of interest, please email us.

Organisational conflicts

Many organisations are already involved in different parts of the technical education system. This could be in the areas including:

  • the development of standards
  • as advisors
  • as training providers
  • as End-Point Assessment (EPA) Organisations

All organisations must consider and declare any conflicts of interest at the point of application. They must keep this under review and let us know of any changes.

There are instances where a conflict of interest is too great for the organisation to take part in EQA. For example, a body that has registered to deliver EPA for a particular standard(s) cannot also carry out work to support EQA for the standard.
Other examples of organisational conflicts of interest for EQA activity include:

  • a registered apprenticeship training provider. These organisations may only support on standards for which they do not deliver training. This ensures independence and protects all parties against any claims of bias
  • an organisation associated with another that offers apprenticeship training or EPA. Here, IfATE will request assurance on independence and make a judgement on conflicts of interest. For example, if an organisation has a subsidiary that carries out EPA, we will ask about the relationship with the rest of the organisation. This could include: the type of information that is shared, how and where the organisation will source individuals for EQA activity

Individual conflicts

Organisations must consider conflicts for any individuals they put forward for any activity. They must also ensure that individuals understand:

  • what an actual or potential conflict is
  • what they need to declare and in what circumstances

Examples of individual conflicts of interest include:

  • having a financial or any other personal interest in the outcome of the EQA activity for a particular standard
  • working (as a staff member or volunteer) for an organisation providing EPA services for a particular standard
  • receiving any kind of monetary payment, non-monetary gift or incentive (including hospitality) from any organisation due or having EQA activity carried out
  • canvassing, or negotiating with any person with a view to entering into any of the arrangements outlined above
  • having a member of their family (which includes unmarried partners) who fall into any of the categories outlined above

Disclosure required:

Organisations must declare any organisational and individual conflicts of interest as part of the application process. They must confirm their agreement to the statements contained within the application form. IfATE expects an organisation to disclose any change in its position as soon as possible.

Failure to disclose a material conflict of interest could result in removal from the employer directory.


6. Annex 2: Applications from organisations that can support EQA


Ofqual and the Office for Students (OfS) deliver EQA of end-point assessment, in line with IfATE's EQA Framework. The employer directory:

  • supports IfATE’s commitment to maintain employer voice and industry input in the evaluation of end-point assessment
  • gives evaluation of the quality of apprenticeship assessment added credibility
  • provides assurance that apprenticeship assessment is a genuine test of occupational competence

IfATE manages the recruitment and approval of organisations to the employer directory. Ofqual or the OfS work with the organisations to commission and carry out activity in support of EQA.

Organisations who can provide support in the following areas should apply.


EQA support during delivery

A. Scrutiny of the end-point assessment and support materials produced by the EPAO

As part of readiness checks, Ofqual or the OfS will undertake a technical review of the assessment materials.

Ofqual or the OfS will focus on the reliability of the materials from an assessment perspective. Experts from the employer directory can support them and provide an employer perspective. They can ensure the materials provide a relevant and up-to-date assessment of occupational competence.


B. Insight and intelligence to support prioritisation and targeting of EQA activities

Employer directory organisations can provide employer-centric insights and intelligence. These may be on developments within their sector relevant to the delivery of the end-point assessment, for example:

  • changes to workplace practices. These may impact upon the standard, end-point assessment plan or end-point assessment materials,
  • insights and intelligence that will inform prioritisation and targeting of EQA activities


C. Operational activity. Confirming that quality end-point assessment continues to deliver occupational competence

As part of ongoing monitoring, Ofqual or the OfS will review end-point assessment delivery in various ways. This includes, but is not limited to, the observation of live assessment.

They may draw on expertise from the employer directory to help them. The experts can confirm if the way end-point assessment materials are being put into practice provides a relevant and up-to-date assessment of occupational competence.
For example:

  • that workplace simulations provide a realistic environment. Apprentices carry out the sort of tasks that would be undertaken at the level of the occupation
  • that apprentices awarded grades above a pass are more likely to perform better in the workplace.  (Rather than only achieving a higher level of academic attainment)


Support to end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs) and feedback to employers

D. Support to EPAOs where specific improvement actions are identified

Ofqual or the OfS may identify that an end-point assessment organisation is not delivering an assessment activity. They may also identify an EPAO is not delivering end-point assessment to the appropriate level.

The organisation on the employer directory could provide support to the EPAO to help them improve.

Examples may include:

  • supporting the improvement of end-point assessment materials. This is to ensure they accurately reflect sector occupational matters
  • signposting CPD for EPAO staff
  • assisting with interpretation of the end-point assessment plan

E. Addressing general trends in end-point assessment delivery

Ofqual or the OfS may draw on employer directory organisations to work alongside them and contribute to EPAO forums and discussion groups. The focus could be how they use EQA to improve assessment.

IfATE would also welcome the organisations on the employer directory being part of a community of learning and interest. This might include:

  • organising or participating in forums and workshops with EPAOs
  • developing and sharing best practice from an employer’s perspective
  • working alongside Ofqual and the OfS to improve best practice
  • engaging with the relevant trailblazer groups operating in their sector. They could provide advice on the development of new apprenticeship standards, gained from their insight in EQA



These are activities outside supporting Ofqual or the OfS with EQA activity.  IfATE would commission and agree these activities as required.


F. High-level advice to IfATE

We may ask employer directory organisations to comment on end-point assessment plans.


Post-delivery evaluation

G. Evaluation and dissemination

IfATE will take the views of employer bodies into account when conducting route reviews of apprenticeship standards and end-point assessment plans.

We also expect the employer directory bodies will provide feedback and insight to employers in their sector. This could include sharing findings and sector-specific reports from EQA organisations. 


Mapping to external standards

H. Confirmation of alignment/mapping to existing professional standards

The organisation may have a role overseeing alignment with an external standard. This work is outside the scope of EQA. It supports the apprenticeship programme and the development of technical education more broadly.

In these cases, the organisation could confirm maintenance of this alignment when the end-point assessment plan is developed or reviewed. They could also confirm the manner in which the end-point assessment is being delivered on an ongoing basis allows this alignment.

IfATE does not currently expect to make payment for any work relating to activities F-H. 


Last updated 13 May 2024
(HB, NS)