Awarding Organisation and End Point Assessment Organisation, Occupational Awards Limited (OAL), have recently completed a number of End Point Assessments (EPAs) for specialist training provider Didac, who have been delivering the Team Leader/Supervisor standard for timber experts James Donaldson & Sons Ltd.

The Team Leader/Supervisor standard, which runs over two years, is an intermediate level training programme which covers the basics of leadership skills, people management, communication skills, finance, project management and health and safety.

For OAL, Didac and Donaldsons, this was the first time that End Point Assessment, for the Team Leader/Supervisor standard had been taken, so understandably there was a desire from all parties that it should be a success. The results speak for themselves, of the six Donaldson apprentices who took the standard, all passed with distinctions. Highlighting the exceptional programme delivered by DIdac, the effort and determination of the apprentices and the high level of commitment and support displayed by the team at Donaldson’s.

Before beginning the apprenticeship, the six apprentices were already employees at Donaldsons, working in a variety of positions including designers, operators and junior managers.

Rowena McBlain, HR Director at Donaldsons, spoke about why they chose to develop their employees through the Team Leader/Supervisor Apprenticeship Standard.

“We want our employees to develop their leadership skills while gaining a nationally recognised qualification. To achieve this, we supplement the training given by Didac with our development programme and an Institute of Leadership Management (ILM) level 2. This means that while they have completed the Team Leader/Supervisor standard, they won’t complete the overall training programme until April 2019. Overall we are delighted with the training Didac provided, and believe that the standard has been a great success”.

As the End Point Assessment Organisation, it was OAL’s job to assess that the Donaldsons’ trainees had acquired the correct knowledge, skills and behaviours as set out by the apprenticeship standard. This was achieved by assessing the apprentices with an knowledge test, a competency-based interview and a discussion with the assessor.

The choice of OAL as an End Point Assessment Organisation was suggested by Didac and approved by Donaldsons, as Gavin Lewis, Curriculum & Performance manager at Didac explained:

“Choosing OAL as our EPAO was a no brainer. We had worked with them for many years as an Awarding Organisation for our wood and timber standards, so we already had a good working relationship in place and it was the natural choice to ask them to be our EPAO. After explaining this to the team at Donaldsons they agreed, and OAL was chosen.”

During the run-up to the End Point Assessment OAL made themselves available to Didac and Donalsons to explain what would be required during the EPA process.

Gavin explained:

“Early on OAL sent a member of their team over to deliver a presentation about OAL and what would be expected during the EPA.  It was great that OAL were always on hand to answer questions and help explain the EPA process”.

Rowenna added:

“It was important for us at Donaldsons that we understood the EPA process, so we are pleased that OAL took the time to visit us to explain what was required. When it came time to do the EPA, OAL were very accommodating and sent their assessors out to our sites to conduct the assessments in the workplace.”

One of the Donaldson apprentices, Jon Davies, said about the EPA process:

“I was really nervous before taking the end point assessment, as I hadn’t done anything like this since leaving school. However, the Independent Assessor from OAL who came to do the assessment was great, answered all my questions and helped put my mind at ease. This course has been a great opportunity and really helped build my confidence. When I started it I was a Roof Truss Designer with Donaldsons, now having finished the course I am helping the Senior Management Team run a new part of the business in Cramlington.”

Now that Jon and the other five apprentices have completed their apprenticeship, although they still have more work to do to complete the overall training programme, some, like Jon, are now moving into more senior positions as Rowena explained:

“Now that the trainees have completed the standard we consider them all to be high potential employees. Like Jon, over time, they will all get additional responsibilities, with some even now heading up their own projects. It has been fantastic to see their confidence grow during the training programme and we hope to continue to aid their personal development in the future.”