Employers are being offered a route through the maze of End-Point Assessment (EPA) as the new world of apprenticeship standards begins to make its mark on the health and social care sector.
Rather than being “signed off” at the end of their apprenticeship training by their training provider, apprentices who are studying the new apprenticeship standards in health and social care now have a new, final stage to their apprenticeship. This stage is designed to ensure that the apprentice has gained the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours (KSBs) required of the apprenticeship. This assessment is done by an approved End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) who will work with the training provider, apprentice and employer during this stage of the journey.
Guiding employers through the EPA process, Sandra Evans, Chief Executive of Prepare to Achieve Ltd, explains: “Employers have had a lot to take in over the past year or so with all the changes to the sector, after many years of working under the old apprenticeship frameworks, understandably there’s a lot of confusion not only for employers but also for the apprentice themselves.
“In a nutshell, the EPA process is there to validate that the apprentice has the skills, knowledge and behaviours of the apprenticeship. It basically adds an extra quality stamp to their training.
Prepare to Achieve, whose headquarters are in Birkenhead, delivers nationally and is the only End-Point Assessment organisation (EPAO) to specialise in the health and social care sector.
Sandra continued: “It means our EPA service is specifically tailored to the needs of care employers rather than making them simply adapt to the EPA process which may not suit the sector. For example, some EPAOs require 90 days’ notice of assessment dates. Prepare to Achieve does not, as we recognises the impracticality of operating this way due to the many uncertain working patterns within the care sector.”
“Nor do we charge any registration fees. There’s just one fee at the point of Gateway, the period when, after discussion with their apprentice and training provider, the employer “signs off” the apprentice as ready for EPA.”
Sandra explained: “Our approach to fees is the same as our delivery approach, transparent and fuss-free. We want to build lasting relationships with our employers and so make it clear to our employers about the whole process, how it works and what the costs are. There are no hidden extras like some other EPAOs.
The new apprenticeship reforms are having a big effect on employers but EPA is a system that Sandra believes, accurately assesses a learner’s capabilities and readiness for a particular workplace role in the health and social care sector.
For learners, the EPA process is an opportunity for them to really demonstrate competence within the sector, ultimately placing them in the stronger position for the likes of career progression. She comments:
“The EPA assessment method is a motivational method of testing learners’ abilities, encouraging them to work hard to achieve a pass, merit or distinction.”
She added: “At the heart of our business is our commitment to learners, employers, providers and the apprenticeships sector in general. Within the health and social care sector, quality of service is key so we always engage with employers in a timely, open, friendly and supportive manner, totally committed to the value that good quality apprenticeships can add to society.
“We believe that when standards are high, everyone benefits.”
For more information about End-Point Assessment and Prepare to Achieve’s comprehensive range of resources on EPA, including mock assessment tools to help employers and apprentices understand the new system, please contact Prepare to Achieve on 0151 662 0139 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.