Content and procedures for delivery of Level 2 and 3 apprenticeships review

This month, I would like to report on some changes that will affect the content and procedures for the delivery of the Level 2 and 3 NDT apprenticeships. The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education is required to carry out a statutory review, which, in BINDT’s case, is the review of the engineering and manufacturing route.

There is a legal requirement to regularly review standards and assessment plans and change or withdraw apprenticeship standards, if needed. This review is being carried out to ensure apprenticeship standards are of high quality, are relevant and up to date, are recognised and valued by employers and are supporting apprentices in reaching full occupational competence.

The five principles of the review are: that the apprenticeships are employer led, that the review is a consultative process, that there is a thorough approach to the review process, that the quality is improved for the benefit of all and that there is a sensible pace of change.

All standards published prior to the set-up of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education are included (before April 2017), which means that the NDT Operator and the NDT Engineering Technician will be included. My understanding is that, currently, the Level 6 apprenticeships (degree apprenticeships) are not included. Overall, this affects around 50 standards in total, across all three pathways and at all levels, accounting for over 12,000 apprentices since they were published as early as 2014.

There are some potential quality issues and these may affect standards with an unexpectedly low number of starts, a high proportion of withdrawals, significant overlap with other standards and a high risk of becoming outdated.

With regards to interactions with T-Level development, there will be an iterative approach to reviewing apprenticeships and developing T-Levels, although I am not sure whether NDT T-Levels are being developed. The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education’s consultation will align with the Institute’s consultations for the outline content of the engineering and manufacturing T-Levels. If the T-Level consultations are delayed, a deadline of June 2020 will be given to factor in findings. When we finalise recommendations, our recommendations will consider findings from the T-Level consultations. Recommendations will be shared with the T-Level panels, so changes will be reflected in the T-Level. I will find out how BINDT can contribute to the T-Level development for NDT.

The timeline for change will be as follows: prepare from now until October 2019; consult from October 2019 to January 2020; evaluate from February 2020 to June 2020; and make a decision from July 2020 to February 2021.

The recommendations could result in one of three outcomes: Outcome 1: no changes required – it meets the criteria, there are no known quality issues, consultation outcomes confirm this and Trailblazer does not need to act; Outcome 2: some changes required – it partially meets the criteria, there are some quality issues, consultation raises some concerns and Trailblazer is required to make changes; and Outcome 3: remove occupation – it does not meet the criteria and is not an apprenticeship occupation, so the standard will be withdrawn.

For Outcome 2, potential changes could include amending knowledge, skills and behaviours, amending/removing qualifications, amending core and options, merging with other occupations, creating new occupations or amending the end-point assessment plan in line with changes to the standard. Communication will be at the forefront of the consultation and will consist of taking into account the following. Who? Trailblazers, employers and apprentices, training providers and end-point assessment organisations, professional bodies and trade associations, the route panel and the T-Level panel. When? During review preparation, pre- and post-consultation and pre- and post-announcement of recommendations. Why? To ensure a shared understanding of the purpose and value of the review and to ensure standard development is transparent and based on a range of views. How? Face to face, online and through publications, with regular updates throughout and targeted support for Trailblazer and route panel members.

This process is likely to change, so I will keep you up to date. When I know, you will know.

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