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Support for apprenticeship assessments is needed in England and Scotland, says Shaun Wadsworth.

THE pathway to competence for an apprentice floorlayer is one that requires each apprentice to prove in various ways that they can meet the criteria set by industry and awarding bodies. If an apprentice can demonstrate their basic competence during their time learning, then the relevant certification is awarded and their journey as an apprentice and the next step of their career begins.

In both England and Scotland apprentices prove their competence through a final assessment of skills, knowledge and behaviours based on real world application, testing an apprentice’s ability to practically apply what they have learned throughout their training. This approach not only benefits the apprentice but also their employers and our industry. The assessment is a critical phase within the Apprenticeship Standard (England) and Modern Apprenticeship Framework (Scotland) serving as a culmination of an apprentice’s training journey. It is a rigorous evaluation that ensures apprentices can excel within our industry and in their chosen occupation but needs sector support urgently in the form of industry professionals who can assess floorlaying apprentices.

Assessors play a pivotal role in the apprentice assessment process. These experienced professionals are responsible for conducting and evaluating the various assessment components. Their expertise ensures that the evaluation is fair, consistent, and aligned with industry standards. Assessors provide constructive feedback, guiding apprentices towards areas of improvement and helping them realise their potential. They ensure that apprentices are well-equipped with the skills demanded by our industry, reducing the skills gap and encouraging a capable workforce that meets market needs. Employers gain assurance that their apprentices possess the required competencies, leading to increased confidence in the abilities of their workforce.

Across England and Scotland there is currently a shortage of suitably experienced assessors to support apprenticeship assessments, and through the CFA and my access to communication to the wider industry, I want to ask for industry support to rectify this by recruiting more assessors. Let me start by outlining exactly what is involved.

End-Point assessors are responsible for assessing the competency of apprentices’ three key areas through a two-day assessment, conducted in a controlled environment, simulating real-world settings. An apprentice will typically approach End Point Assessment (EPA) within 24-30 month of learning and the assessment consists of three parts; a multiple-choice knowledge test (KT), a practical assessment (PA) of skills completed within a specific time and a professional discussion (PD) with the assessor with a portfolio of evidence as a guide. On successful completion of the assessment the apprentice can achieve a pass or distinction in each category and an overall grade.
EPA is a comprehensive evaluation that marks the conclusion of an apprentice’s learning journey ensuring they are well prepared by aligning with industry standards. As apprenticeships continue to shape the future of education and employment, the role of End Point Assessment remains essential in producing competent floorlayers and so more assessors are required.

End-Point Assessors can provide their time as and when required alongside other work or jobs and are paid a set fee per assessment by the organisation they assess for. They must be independent of the apprentice, their employer and training provider(s) i.e., there must be no conflict of interest and have a sufficient, verifiable, relevant floorlaying experience, knowledge and understanding, at or above the level being assessed. This must be of sufficient depth to be effective and reliable when judging apprentices’ competence.

Assessors are responsible for assessing apprentices on site during the final two years of their apprenticeship and conducting a skills test at the end of an apprentice’s planned time on programme. Onsite assessments are completed in person in the apprentice’s day-to-day environment over a period of visits. The final skills test is conducted in a controlled environment, simulating real-world settings within a set period of time.

The Scottish Modern Apprenticeships (MA) skills test is designed to assess the practical skills and knowledge of apprentices with the main purpose to ensure that apprentices have acquired the necessary competencies to perform effectively. The skills test involves both theory and practical components, assessing the apprentice’s understanding of industry-specific concepts, regulations, and procedures as well as their ability to apply skills in real-world scenarios.

Assessors can provide their time alongside their current work and are paid a set fee for any assessment undertaken. Assessors are provided with full training for the role through CITB and the Scottish Construction Assessor Network and guided through the process, leading to formal qualifications in assessing vocational achievements.

So, if you have the time, relevant experience and want to help support the next generation of floorlayer achieve the apprenticeship, becoming an assessor is a fantastic opportunity. It is a paid position that is flexible and can work around current workloads and is extremely rewarding. As an assessor you would be directly contributing to a skilled workforce that drives economic growth and innovation. Apprenticeships shape the future of the industry, and as such end point assessment remains essential in producing competent and job-ready professionals.

Want to know more? Contact me on the details below and I would be happy to signpost you to the relevant organisations for your area.
0115 9506836
Shaun Wadsworth is CFA and FITA training manager

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