AELP consulting on proposals to avoid EPA 'car crash'

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers is seeking input from its members on how to avoid an apprenticeship end point assessment “car crash”.

The consultation builds on widespread concerns from across the sector about a lack of assessor capacity, as the number of apprentices needing to sit their final exams grows.

“The warning lights on end point assessment have been flashing strongly for over two years but the authorities have buried their heads in the sand and now the horror stories are starting to appear,” said AELP boss Mark Dawe (pictured above). 

“If the EPA car crash happens, the damage to the reputation of apprenticeships among employers and young people could be far worse than anything else that has happened under the reforms so far,” he warned. 

“None of us wants this to happen.”

The AELP has put together a number of proposals addressing key points that it says must be addressed urgently.

These are grouped into four headings: clarity, consistency, capacity and costings.

Issues identified under clarity include confusion over the role of the provider and the EPA organisation, and over who pays for what – and even what the actual cost of the EPA is.

To illustrate the issues around consistency, the AELP gave an example of a large employer using two different EPA organisations to assess two cohorts of apprentices on the same standard.

“The first EPA organisation passed its entire cohort, while the second passed only half of its cohort despite the apprentices receiving the same quality training and support,” a spokesperson said.

Assessor capacity is “probably the biggest concern at the moment, especially given the restrictions placed on who can be an assessor,” according to the AELP.

FE Week reported in September on some of the fears raised by EPA organisations over assessor capacity.

Earlier this year Ofqual boss Sally Collier admitted she had concerns over assessor capacity and capability, and in July the exams regulator announced plans to carry out capacity audits at end point assessment organisations it oversees as an external quality assurance provider.

Just 4,500 EPAs have so far taken place, with numbers expected to hit 500,000 when the system is running at full capacity.

“Many training providers and EPA organisations are deeply concerned that there is insufficient assessment capacity to cope, leaving the futures of hardworking apprentices up in the air,” an AELP spokesperson said.

The final point, costings, highlights issues such as the true cost of EPA delivery not being fully understood, and the impact of the funding band reviews on costs.

To read the full consultation document click here.

All responses should be sent to apprenticeships@aelp.org.uk