Relationship Manager Overview
As we all continue to work towards a new normal, progress from the trailblazer groups (TBs) involved in the digital route review has varied widely because of some specific factors for individual apprenticeships.
The TBs have identified training providers to assist with funding quotes for new apprenticeships and the Institute is providing a webinar to guide this crucial activity and ensure we get the best possible evidence on which to base the Institute’s funding recommendations. Both the TB chairs and I are especially grateful to these key stakeholders stepping forward to help with this work and taking such a keen interest in getting it right.
The level 4 apprenticeships were all able to deliver preview webinars in early July to show the digital apprenticeship community what the revised apprenticeships would look like and where possible outline the end-point assessment (EPA) approach too. The preview approach was taken because we are unable to publish the revised apprenticeships until the funding bands have been allocated.
The webinars were well attended with over 60 people attending each one and raising some really interesting questions and challenges around both the apprenticeships and wider understanding of Institute policy on apprenticeships. It was so uplifting to have so much interest in the work that has been going on with the digital review and to get such overwhelmingly positive feedback.
You can find the preview standards and EPAs on the Institute website by visiting the apprenticeship content you are interested in and clicking on the link at the top of the relevant page. You will note that some of the apprenticeship content published on the preview page may change slightly and this reflects the responsiveness of the TBs to the feedback received following the webinars. For example, we have clarified the language in the data analyst apprenticeship following helpful insight from stakeholders.
The plan was to publish some FAQs from each webinar that were specific to each of the apprenticeships, however, the queries we mainly received were generic policy queries. I am currently working with my colleagues in the Institute on how we can address some common misunderstandings and myths around apprenticeships and delivery and hope to be able to update everyone shortly on that.
Myth-busting! - qualifications in standards
Following contact I have had over recent weeks I would like to address a key misunderstanding – that is, the Institute’s approach to qualifications in apprenticeships generally and their removal from the digital route review apprenticeships.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Institute’s policy is not to “remove” or limit qualifications from apprenticeships completely and removal of a qualification does not prevent its use.
The direction of travel on vendor qualifications in the digital route review is to remove them as mandatory elements of the apprenticeships unless they meet one of the 3 tests required by the Institute. The applicable test for these apprenticeships being the “hard sift” criterion. That means an apprentice would be disadvantaged in the job market if they did not have a specific qualification for the occupation at the level of the apprenticeship. This is evidenced by employers showing a real need for the qualification within the occupation.
In collaboration with employer-led trailblazers, the decision was taken to not mandate qualifications within [some/all] of the revised digital apprenticeships. As vendor qualifications are replaced, updated and removed on a regular basis, apprenticeships do not keep up with the fast pace of qualification changes. Some of you may have been affected by the confusion and disruption that can be caused if you have apprentices on software developer or network engineer level 4 for example.
The TB decision to remove qualifications within a standard also frees up the delivery of apprenticeships to reflect what employers require within their specific apprenticeship offering. It enables them to work with their training providers to devise a training programme that delivers the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) with a view to achieving occupational competence that is relevant to their business environment.
Some employers and training providers may decide that the best route to achieve that occupational competence is through a range of qualifications delivering the KSBs of the apprenticeship and if that is the preference that remains acceptable. The costs of training that map to KSBs, including by delivery through a qualification, will be within the funding band allocation except for registration and certification costs. You can find more information about additional qualifications on our website.
Summary of activity and timeline for apprenticeships review up to 01 September 2020
All revised content can be found on the preview page on our website:
- Data analyst level 4: The apprenticeship and EPA has been approved. Funding band quotes pending from training providers need to be received before funding recommendation can be made and the standard launched.
- Network engineer level 4: The apprenticeship has been approved and the EPA is pending approval by the Institute following adjustment to meet conditions. Funding band quotes pending from Training Providers need to be received before funding recommendation can be made and the standard launched
- Unified communications trouble-shooter level 4: This apprenticeship has been proposed for decommissioning in the coming weeks.
- Cyber security technologist level 4: The apprenticeship has been approved and the EPA is being submitted for 09 September. Funding band quotes pending from training providers need to be received before funding recommendation can be made and the apprenticeship launched
- Cyber intrusion analyst level 4 – The apprenticeship has been proposed for decommissioning as a standalone apprenticeship in the coming weeks, it will be incorporated as a 3rd option in the revised cyber security technologist level 4.
- Software developer technician level 3: The apprenticeship and EPA has been approved with conditions and is with the TB for adjustments to be considered and made. These will be submitted by the end of September. Funding band quotes pending from training providers need to be received before funding recommendation can be made and the apprenticeship launched
- Software developer level 4: The apprenticeship has been approved. The EPA was approved with conditions and the Institute are currently considering the TBs adjustments to meet them. Funding band quotes pending from training providers need to be received before funding recommendation can be made and the apprenticeship launched
- Unified communications technician level 3: A new TB has been formed and has agreed to reformulate the standard as digital communications technician within the infrastructure technician rewritten standard. This is to fulfil a need for this occupation highlighted by the TB members. The TB met for a virtual workshop on 23 April and again on 7 May. The TB is keen for anyone interested in this standard to join. Please contact Simon Keyland, as the TB chair, or myself to discuss joining the TB. The apprenticeship content has been drafted for the digital communications technician option along with the EPA approach. The TB will submit the apprenticeship and EPA to the Institute by 9 September. Funding band quotes pending from training providers need to be received before funding recommendation can be made and the apprenticeship launched
- Infrastructure technician level 3: The TB has renamed the apprenticeship information communication technician to better reflect the target occupation and job roles within it. The TB has drafted a core and options model to accommodate support technician, network technician and digital communications technician. The TB has also considered the link to T Levels and pre-existing apprenticeships in this occupational route. The TB will submit the revised apprenticeship and EPA by 9 September. Funding band quotes pending from training providers need to be received before funding recommendation can be made and the apprenticeship launched
- Software tester level 4: The TB has received approval for the apprenticeship and its content can be found on the Preview Page. The retention of the apprenticeship at level 4 has been agreed. The EPA has been approved with conditions and the TB are now working to address those. Funding band quotes pending from training providers need to be received before funding recommendation can be made and the apprenticeship launched
- IS (Information Systems) business analyst level 4: The TB has received approval for the apprenticeship, renamed as business analyst. The TB will now submit the EPA by 9 September, which is the next submission date. Funding band quotes pending from training providers need to be received before funding recommendation can be made and the apprenticeship launched
- Digital and technology solutions professional level 6: The TB has worked hard to clarify the duties and KSBs for the specialisms/options currently available and submitted a revised apprenticeship by 20 May. The group have postponed further work on the apprenticeship and EPA pending the outcome of the Institute’s degree apprenticeship review. Funding band quotes pending from training providers will need to be received before funding recommendation can be made and the apprenticeship launched.
As always, all the TB chairs are keen to hear from any employers who have an interest in the apprenticeships under review whether past, current or future employers of apprentices. You will find contact email addresses below.
The TB chairs remain especially keen to discuss approaches to transition to the new apprenticeships. They would like to hear the views of the key stakeholders in using and delivering the apprenticeships and how best to mitigate against any unnecessary upheaval whilst acknowledging that what is being launched is an improved product and so a timely launch is key. Some chairs have already had very useful discussions with key stakeholders and they are looking to hear as many views as possible on what the wider sector thinks.
TBG Chair Contacts:
Rebecca Plant at Rebecca.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Infrastructure technician level 3
- Software developer technician level 3
- Data analyst level 4
- Software developer level 4
- Software tester level 4
Jonathan Goodall at JonathanG@Risual.com
- Network engineer level 4
Simon Keyland at Simon.Keyland410@mod.gov.uk
- Unified communications trouble-shooter level 4
- Unified communications technician level 3
Paul Thorlby at JPThorlby@qinetiq.com
- Cyber security technologist level 4
- Cyber intrusion analyst level 4.
Christina Lovelock at email@example.com
- IS business analyst level 4
Jenny Taylor at TAYLOJA@uk.ibm.com
- Digital and technology solutions professional level 6
I want to repeat my heartfelt thank you to everyone involved in the review and rewriting of the digital apprenticeships. The trailblazer groups are indebted to the contributions of training providers and end point assessment organisations, as they work through the EPA content, and recognise how hard it is in the current crisis. The enthusiasm from all involved is truly inspirational and the positive feedback we are receiving on the revised content has really raised the trailblazer groups spirits as they approach the finish line.