Demand for End Point Assessors
Much has been written about the new arrangements for assessing apprentices and how different this is, with “new skills” needed.
With large numbers of apprenticeship schemes already running, about to start, or in the process of being set up, the number of apprentices expected by the UK government can only grow. Despite some of the initial uncertainty earlier this year, there still appears to be the aspiration to have 3 million people on apprenticeship programmes by 2020, the funding of which will come (at least in part) from the new apprenticeship levy.
Many End Point Assessment Organisations (EPAOs) are recruiting at present and the number of End Point Assessors that will be needed, surely far exceeds the number of existing assessment professionals.
How different is EPA?
Whilst it is true that EPA generally uses a wider range of assessment methods than traditional assessment, the knowledge and skills needed are really only those included within the current “TAQA” suite of qualifications for assessors.
However, the particular context and often highly prescribed requirements within the apprenticeship standards, has given birth to a special qualification for End Point Assessors – the Award in Undertaking End Point Assessment.
How will gaining this new qualification help?
Given the likely future demand for assessors, there are some obvious advantages to gaining this qualification. This new qualification provides existing assessment professionals a means to demonstrate their specific knowledge, understanding, and practice in this new context, and therefore enhance their credibility, standing and expertise while supporting the shift in focus towards apprenticeships.
Probably the greatest advantage though, given the number of new assessors that will be needed, is for those who are currently working as experts in their field, as it will help them to be able to:
- learn about the principles of apprenticeships
- learn about the principles of assessment and assessment methods
- understand the importance, intentions and practice of EPA
- identify the standards that apply to the Apprenticeship in their professional field
- learn how to use the assessment methods required for the EPA of the apprenticeships in their professional field
- show that they can use these methods effectively.
For these individuals, the new qualification is particularly appropriate as it will add to professional subject-matter expertise and the additional knowledge, understanding and practice of End Point Assessment.
Furthermore, getting qualified will also increase personal confidence and help raise credibility. Organisations will surely also benefit with staff and associates having greater knowledge and understanding of apprenticeships and the related standards.
Maintaining the standard
The existing “TAQA” qualifications for assessors (for example the Certificate in Assessing Vocational Achievement) are in some apprenticeship standards a requirement. These are valid within an EPA context, and therefore well worth gaining, regardless of whether they are noted in an apprenticeship standard.
For those apprenticeship standards that do not specify an assessment qualification as mandatory, EPAOs will still need to demonstrate that their staff have the required knowledge, understanding and practice in the context of apprenticeship assessment.
This will particularly include effectiveness in a range of assessment methods and approaches to robust record keeping and reporting, as included in the new EPA qualification. Additionally, all of this will need to be demonstrated by EPAOs to their Quality Assurance organisations to help keep the value of apprenticeship to the high level to which the government aspires.