Transport and logistics training providers are struggling to fulfil delivery of apprenticeships due to a lack of suitable assessors able to carry out End Point Assessments (EPAs), warns RTITB.
The End Point Assessment (EPA) ensures that an apprentice can do the job they have been trained to do and typically comes at the end of a 12-month programme of training and experience in the job role. The EPA must be carried out by an assessor from an independent organisation, registered with the Education and Skills Funding Agency as an End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO). The employer or training provider can’t carry out EPAs of their own apprentices.
“Recently we’ve spoken to a number of registered apprenticeship training providers who have been given lead times of 3 months by some EPAOs when they’ve requested EPAs for their LGV Driver apprentices,” says Laura Nelson, Managing Director of RTITB, the preferred workplace transport training regulatory body, which is also a registered EPAO for logistics apprenticeship standards.
“This simply isn’t fair on the apprentices who have worked hard to meet the gateway requirements and are ready for their EPA,” she continues. “What’s more, it undermines confidence in logistics apprenticeships.”
Concerns about the performance of EPAOs were highlighted in 2018 following the introduction of the government Apprenticeship Levy. Exam regulator Ofqual committed to starting ‘a programme of audits to help understand how the EPAOs we regulate are mitigating risks around the capacity and capability of EPA assessors’*.
However, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers has recently suggested that there remains a lack of suitable assessors for certain apprenticeship standards which will lead to ’12 months’ worth of leavers but only 8- or 9-months’ worth of completions’**.
“It is a worry that EPAOs are already struggling to fulfil demand, as the volume of apprenticeships in our industry is far lower than it was before the introduction of the apprenticeship levy,” says Laura, explaining that this does not bode well for the future if apprentice numbers were to increase.
A further concern is that the lack of End Point Assessors will cause Training Providers to turn to assessors that can assess apprentices to a minimum skills level but lack the workplace competence and industry expertise to conduct the high-quality assessments needed to assure employers that their apprentices have achieved the required levels of skill and knowledge.
“If Training Providers use the wrong assessor, apprentices will not get the level of assessment that they deserve after a year of hard work,” says Laura. “That’s why to help meet the demand for EPAs for logistics apprenticeship standards, RTITB has become an approved EPAO.”
“We put the apprentice’s needs at the heart of our EPAs and work closely with the NSAR, who oversee EPAs in the logistics sector, to ensure that we offer a high quality, suitable assessment service,” Laura continues.
A large team of highly skilled RTITB Assessors, that have genuine logistics and warehousing experience, conduct RTITB EPAs with a lead time of less than 4 weeks. These skilled professionals carry out EPAs alongside RTITB’s other important industry assessments, such as lift truck instructor qualification tests and National Register of LGV Instructor examinations.
“Some EPAOs are forced to rely on assessors who are external contractors and try to fit in EPAs around other work,” explains Laura. “However, at RTITB we employ our own team of professional assessors who have specific industry experience and are closely monitored to ensure consistently high assessment standards.”
RTITB currently offers EPAs for Supply Chain Warehouse Operatives (ST259) and LGV Drivers (ST0257), with other apprenticeship standards in the transport and logistics sector due to be added during 2019.
Employers who have apprentices working on other logistics standards should contact RTITB now so that it is ready to conduct EPAs when those apprentices complete their training. For more information contact RTITB via email email@example.com, call End Point Assessment Manager, Dave Cox on 01952 520200 or visit www.rtitb.co.uk.
*Ofqual to audit EPAOs amid capacity and capability concerns – https://feweek.co.uk/2018/07/26/ofqual-to-audit-epaos-amid-capacity-and-capability-concerns/
**Inaction on EPA further risks the reputation of apprenticeships – https://www.aelp.org.uk/news/news/blog-posts/inaction-on-epa-further-risks-the-reputation-of-apprenticeships/