The change from Apprenticeship Frameworks to the new standards – while rewarding for employers and apprentices – has brought planning challenges, writes Lee Reddington, OAL Head of Customer Support. Here are seven top tips to help avoid delays- make sure your provider is aware.

  • Engage early with your EPAO. OAL can then advise and support you from the start about the detailed aspects of the EPA that might not be immediately obvious. Early registrations enable OAL to ensure you have the right Independent Assessors trained and available when and where you need them

  • Check quality assurance planning with your provider. Ensure your provider has considered the mandated or supporting qualifications built into the delivery model. Most of these qualifications are new and often therefore require External Quality Assurance before results can be issued

  • Clarify Gateway Requirements. Check that you, your apprentice and your training provider know what is required in order to progress to EPA. The minimum requirement for all apprenticeships is a delivery period of over 12 months and a minimum Maths and English requirement that varies depending upon the level of the apprenticeship

  • Build functional skills into the delivery model early . If your apprentice already has previous qualifications, your provider can upload these with OAL at any time. If not, functional skills and assessments need to be built into the delivery model as soon as possible – don’t leave tests until the end

  • Pick your 12-week period carefully. Once you declare the apprentice ready for EPA and the Gateway evidence is approved, most apprenticeships, will allow only 12 weeks to complete all assessments and any required resits. So, it might be worth avoiding peak timings like Christmas, or summer holidays

  • Ensure sites are pre-approved by OAL. Whether the EPA will be carried out on your site or the provider’s premises, ensure the locations are pre-approved by OAL. We have a duty of care both to our Independent Assessors and to apprentices to ensure certain requirements are met. Your provider has access to an EPA Site Recognition Form, which is specific to individual apprenticeship standards

  • Ask your provider to book EPA slots well in advance. Ensure you have the right assessors available at the right time by asking your provider to reserve EPA slots using the OAL EPA Reservation form. This way you can book the time and dates you need up six months in advance