Apprenticeships have entered a brave new world, full of danger and possibility.

Many government reforms have just kicked in and a lot of organisations, whether they be employers, training providers or others, are still trying to figure out how to operate in this new landscape of trailblazers, apprenticeship standards, EPA and apprentice assessment. The industry currently lives in very interesting times.

So it was interesting to attend AELP’s 2017 conference late last month. The air was thick with disappointment with the system and new ideas about where the industry can or would go from here. Needless to say, lots happened at the event (and that’s not even including AELP’s Mark Dawe dancing on stage in stilettos). But the address that most caught our eye (and that would interest other AAOs) was Nick Linford’s, senior editor of industry bible, FEWeek.

Linford gave a very interesting speech voicing his concerns about the quality of apprenticeship assessment organisations currently lining up to deliver assessment services. In his speech, there were some very revealing facts about the RoAAO register, AAOs specifically and how apprenticeship assessment provision will probably unfold from here on out. Linford has clout in the industry and his name and opinions have reach. So, in order to establish best practises and operate effectively in the future, here are 3 things AAOs need to keep in mind when offering apprenticeship assessment.

1.   Not enough AAOs


The government released the new apprenticeship standards in April, and when they did, organisations applying to be AAOs rushed to build capacity in assessment. These organisations tended to apply to provide certain standards over others. Currently, of the 162 approved standards, only 116 have one or more AAO. This may be a product of where AAOs think the money will be. Naturally, some standards will be in more demand than others. And this lack of capacity to provide assessment may create gaps in demand that isn’t being met.

If you are seriously planning on offering apprenticeship assessment services, familiarise yourself with all the standards here. Learn what standards are out and what you may be able to offer.

2.   Remain sceptical

As TQUK’s investigation into the RoATP register verifies, just because an organisation is on a register does not mean they should be. A quick glance at the RoAAO can reveal registrants that do not seem to have the capacity to deliver the assessment the register would seem to suggest. Linford warns employers of relying too much on the register. He says they must do much more research into prospective organisations to make sure they’re able to provide such services.

Try to make all the info you have on EPA and assessment as clearly visible on your website as possible and provide as much detail as you can. You can use TQUK’s EPA page as a template. Make yourself experts in the service!

3.    Careful of Prices


Linford, at the conference, suggested that employers should, when searching for an AAO, ask for the organisation’s price specifically. Because everything is so new, many AAOs are relying on giving potential customers non-committal and vague quotations around 15-20%. (TQUK learned this the hard way...Do what we say, not what we do.) Instead, Linford suggested that if an organisation did not quote a fixed and stable price, customers should hang up immediately. To him, it was an indication that the AAO is too uncertain about what they’re doing to give a firm price. They will not be EPA ready.

You can also see TQUK’s fixed prices on our website here, as an example.

TQUK has also been educating staff as much as possible on EPA, apprenticeship assessment and the different standards we’re offering to be able to provide solid answers to any questions customers might have.

Our website is changing all the time as new materials are released and new processes developed. Keep up to date with all the changes by returning to our blog or following us at @tq_uk on Twitter.

See you out there!