IfA launches first content review of apprenticeship standards

The Institute for Apprenticeships has begun its first statutory review of apprenticeship standards since it began operating more than a year ago.

It’s inviting feedback from employers, apprentices and training providers on 12 standards in the digital sector, all of which were approved before April 2017, via an online consultation which runs for four weeks.

Sir Gerry Berragan (pictured above), the IfA’s chief executive, said it was taking “an employer-led approach” to the review.

“We’re asking industry experts to tell us if these digital standards produce apprentices that are occupationally competent. If they don’t – what do we need to address the shortfall?”

The review will incorporate feedback from employers, apprentices and training providers alongside the IfA’s own quality criteria.

The IfA’s approach to the reviews would be “overseen by the appropriate route panel, and will underpin the quality of T-levels”, and will take “into account other work such as the funding band review”, a spokesperson said.

Digital was chosen for the first review as “we are prioritising those standards linked to T Levels” and those approved pre-2017.

The 12 standards under review had 5,640 starts between them in the first nine months of 2017/18 (see table).

The IfA’s consultation closes October 18, and the outcomes of the review will be published in the New Year.

Earlier this year the institute came in for criticism for having failed to carry out any formal review of duplicate, narrow or low-skill standards since its launch.

It was urged to do so “at the earliest opportunity” by Lord Sainsbury in his report of the independent panel on technical education, published July 2016.

The peer made clear he was concerned about standards that overlapped, were too job-specific, or lacked enough technical content to justify 20 per cent off-the-job training.

Today’s announcement comes as the final results of the IfA’s funding band review are still to be revealed.

That review, launched in May, was intended to “help make sure that employers can access high quality apprenticeships and that funding bands represent good value for money for employers and government”.

It covers 31 standards – including some of the most popular.

FE Week has reported on the outcome of nine of these reviews: six of which have resulted in a recommendation for the band to be cut, one for it to remain the same and two for it to be increased.

Writing exclusively for FE Week, Anne Milton said last week that the full results would be published “shortly”.