Apprenticeships: behaviours and ethics

When developing the NDT apprenticeship programmes, there were three key areas of focus: knowledge, skills and behaviours. Knowledge and skills can be easily demonstrated and measured through Approved Training Organisation (ATO) and Authorised Qualifying Body (AQB) assessments, examinations and employer competency checks. However, behaviours are much more difficult to quantify and are best measured in the workplace over time. Behaviour assessments form a significant portion of the NDT apprenticeship programmes and are an extremely important factor as the NDT system may not be successfully applied if certain behavioural attributes are not considered.

One of the key behavioural attributes I often discuss with apprentices and employers is ethics, which can be defined as ‘moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity’. Professional ethics may be clearly outlined within an employee handbook or company policy but, more importantly, it is demonstrated by the attitudes and actions of the organisation.

If an NDT employer or inspection department is somehow beholden to the customer or production team, then it becomes readily apparent to the NDT apprentice how the desires of the external or internal customer are to be met. The accuracy, reliability and detail of NDT inspections has a major influence on the outcome of component assessment and, in some cases, NDT results, as notated in the NDT report, are taken at face value, without further analysis, and therefore the reports have to be accurate and reliable. If ethical practices are not adhered to then decisions and results produced by NDT can become compromised. With this in mind, it is critical that correct ethical practice be reflected on a daily basis towards the apprentice at a vital learning point in their professional career.

The Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education requires all knowledge, skills and behaviours to be assessed at the end-point assessment, but this cannot be carried out in isolation. So, the intention is for the employer and lead training provider to carry out regular monthly assessments as part of the ongoing assessment of the apprenticeship and to submit reports to the end-point assessment organisation. The end-point assessment organisation will take the reports into account when making the final judgement on whether the apprentice has continued to meet all key behavioural aspects outlined in the apprenticeship standard and applied them successfully.

I will end with an extract taken from BINDT’s Statement of Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct, as a reminder to us all, especially those involved within the mentorship, supervision or employment of NDT apprentices: ‘The decisions and actions of NDT and CM personnel have a profound impact on the world we live in and society at large. Making a clear and public commitment to operating with integrity and honesty is essential to create a greater level of trust and confidence and a positive perception of the non-destructive testing and condition monitoring professions.’

Please note that the views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent the views of Skills Training UK or BINDT.

Sam Cunningham is with Skills Training UK and is a member of BINDT’s Education & Professional Development Committee, which oversees the development of the NDT apprenticeships.

Employers in England looking to recruit an apprentice can find up-to-date guidance at:

Details of the current apprenticeship vacancies in England are available at:

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