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Engineering employers urge apprenticeship body to retain qualifications

Published: 24 March 2017 - Sarah Mead

As the Department for Education (DfE) is poised to transfer responsibility for apprenticeships to the new Institute for Apprenticeships on 6 April, engineering employers are urging the body to keep recognised qualifications a core feature of apprenticeship standards.

Ann Watson, chief executive of Semta, says: “The government’s original apprenticeship standard insisted only on one end test and no requirement for the apprenticeship to achieve a recognised qualification.  Engineering employers have argued and won the case for our industry to have continuous assessment and qualifications in our apprenticeships.  We must not lose this recognition as responsibility transfers.”

To support the employers’ case, Semta commissioned research into international best practice by Professor Lorna Unwin of UCL Institute of Education.  This showed that countries with leading apprenticeships – including Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands –  all have continual assessment and lead to qualifications.

Jo Lopes, Head of Technical Excellence at Jaguar Land Rover said:  “The Apprenticeship Levy is a great opportunity for manufacturing and engineering.  As an industry we have worked extremely hard to ensure the new apprenticeship standards work for employers, the apprentices and UK PLC. We are delighted the government has agreed that apprentices should receive a qualification which is recognised wherever they go in the world – and that this is achieved through constant assessment, evaluation and feedback. This gives employers confidence in the skills and ability of every apprentice.”

Professor Lorna Unwin said:  “It is clear from this research that if an apprenticeship is to have credibility and worth for both individuals and employers, it must end up with a recognised qualification.  And why would you have an apprenticeship without any formal assessment and feedback as part of that process?  Assessment is a critical part of learning and improving.”

Semta represents around 150,000 engineering employers, large and small and has been involved with the development of new apprenticeship standards through Trailblazer groups since 2014.  They have used their expertise in qualification and assessment to ensure apprenticeships meet employer needs.  Their subsidiary, EAL, works with more than 700 recognised assessment centres across the UK.

The full report, The role of qualifications and end point assessment in apprenticeships: an international comparison can be downloaded from

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