What does ESFA’s latest update mean for employers?

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) apprenticeship funding rules 2022/23 are now in effect. If you’re an employer, here's what you need to know.

Initial assessment becomes more robust

Initial assessments have long been required to determine if a learner’s current competencies and previous learning experience are a good match for the apprenticeship programme. The latest updates make this process more robust.

QA will work with employers and their potential apprentices to ensure a thorough initial assessment has been completed before the start of the apprenticeship. This is to ensure that the chosen apprenticeship standard is the most suitable programme for all parties and that the apprentice requires significant new learning to be occupationally competent in their job role.

This includes:  

  • A skills scan completed by the apprentice to identify their current knowledge, skills and behaviours against the apprenticeship standard
  • Diagnostic testing of occupational competence (where required)
  • An assessment of the apprentice’s eligibility for an apprenticeship programme
  • Identification of any relevant prior learning and experience towards the chosen apprenticeship standard

Prior learning and experience play a bigger role in the initial assessment

The initial assessment process helps employers and apprentices better understand the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for the apprenticeship standard.

Where relevant, prior learning and work experience reviewed during the initial assessment can result in a reduction in cost, duration and content of the apprenticeship. QA will individually assess any previous qualifications and experience and discuss the outcomes with the employer and apprentice to ensure that the best-fit programme is undertaken – and confirm that any relevant adjustments based on prior experience are made.

Off-the-Job training simplified  

Off-the-job training (OTJ) will look a bit different come August.

Full-time apprentices (those that work 30 hours per week or more) will be required to spend at least 20% of the apprentice’s normal working hours over the planned duration of the apprenticeship practical period on off-the-job training.

This means the minimum requirement for apprentices working 30 hours or more per week is an average of 6 hours of off-the-job training per week (i.e. 20% of 30 hours) over the planned duration.

Employer coaching, shadowing and mentoring remain off-the-job training, however, there will be more defined requirements to guarantee this is directly related to the apprenticeship and will be part of the training plan.

QA curriculum experts plan the content of the apprenticeship training for each apprenticeship standard and these requirements are discussed with the employer and apprentice as part of the induction process.

The required number of off-the-job training hours will be detailed in the individual training plan to ensure that each QA apprentice receives the amount of training required to become occupationally competent in their job role and meet the requirements of the apprenticeship standard.

We partner with line managers and employers to ensure their apprentices strike the right balance of off-the-job training and time in the workplace to ensure success on the programme and impact within the business. The update to a weekly average OTJ requirement simplifies how employers track their time, but remember that it is a minimum, not a limit.

It’s important to note that the above is based on apprentices working at least 30 hours per week. Where an apprentice is working fewer than 30 hours per week the duration of the apprenticeship will need to be extended as per the funding rules and the OTJ requirement will be adjusted accordingly.

Commitment statement gets a new name 

The ‘Commitment Statement’ will be renamed the ‘Training Plan’.  Details that will need to be documented include: 

  • What training is being delivered
  • What is the schedule of delivery
  • Details of what training provider has promised to deliver
  • What is expected from you as an employer
  • What is expected from the apprentice

Before any training can be provided the training plan must be agreed by all parties. The training plan that QA creates for our employers and apprentices are updated when required and agreed upon by all parties as part of the review process.

Progress reviews at least every 12 weeks

All three parties, the training provider, employer and apprentice must meet at least every 12 weeks to complete a review of the apprentice’s progress towards the apprenticeship and gain valuable employer feedback and insight.

QA programmes already embed regular reviews between learners, their line managers and their dedicated QA coaches. QA has seen great value in making this routine across our apprenticeship programmes. These review meetings are critical in uncovering any challenges early, ensuring the apprentice receives the relevant support to complete their programme on time and meet their workplace objectives.

Learn more about QA Apprenticeships and ESFA funding 

Our team has been pouring over every detail of the ESFA updates. If you’d like to learn more about the changes as they relate to mobilising apprenticeships in your organisation, get in touch with our team. 

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