How do I know if my apprentice is ready for EPA?

Apprentices studying standards (rather than frameworks) must undergo end point assessment, or EPA, at the end of their programme in order to pass their apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship standards have three stages: on-programme learning, Gateway and EPA. The on-programme learning covers the majority of the apprenticeship. This is where the apprentice develops the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) set out in the standard.

The Gateway stage signifies the end of on-programme learning and looks at whether the apprentice is ready to progress to EPA. To pass through Gateway, there must be agreement from the employer, the training provider and the apprentice themself that they are ready. All three parties should be confident that:

  • The apprentice has achieved the relevant KSBs as set out in the standard.
  • The apprentice is occupationally competent, working at or above the level set out in the standard.
  • The apprentice has recorded enough off-the-job learning hours.
  • Any qualifications, including Functional Skills, have been achieved.

How to know if your apprentice is ready for EPA

If the apprentice, employer and training provider are in agreement on the points above, and the apprentice has been on-programme for the minimum duration, they have met the Gateway requirements to progress to EPA.

However, it’s essential for training providers and employers to take a holistic view and be confident that their apprentice can pass their assessment.

To know if your apprentice is ready for EPA, you should look out for these signs:

  • They are already working at the expected level of the standard.
  • They regularly exceed expectations, take initiative and make the role their own.
  • They actively make improvements for the organisation.

Conversely, your apprentice may not be ready for EPA if:

  • They regularly need help and guidance to complete their role.
  • They look at the assessment plan and feel unable to demonstrate the required outcomes.

What should I do if my apprentice isn’t ready for EPA?

If you suspect your apprentice may not be ready for EPA, we recommend you take some time to create a skills matrix and identify areas for improvement. This could be done by taking the KSBs of the standard and using a traffic light system – green where the apprentice is confident; amber where they unsure or there are gaps in learning; and red where they are severely lacking in ability.

Many apprenticeship portfolio systems offer a similar skills matrix assessment. The completed matrix can then be used by the training provider to develop a training plan.

It’s important to bear in mind that the employer and training provider’s role is to support the apprentice to achieve. If there are gaps in learning, it is best for everyone to address these early on. This not only improves the apprentice’s knowledge but reduces their chance of having to re-sit their end point assessment. Furthermore, the apprentice will feel supported by their colleagues and become more engaged with their role. Not to mention, they will be better equipped to help their organisation compete and succeed.

Do you have a question about EPA? Our team are on hand to help – get in touch to find out more.

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