Showing posts with label apprenticeship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label apprenticeship. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Digital Literacy, A New Essential Skill ; Food for Thought from Welsh Experience

Digital Literacy the Welsh Experience
A Think Piece
In Wales, based on recommendations from E-Skills the then Sector Skills Council and Jisc work (including a review of all the digital competencies frameworks globally) , and on advice of Graham Donaldson in his Report to the Welsh Government , a new essential skills framework has been developed to support work based and lifelong learning.
This fits with the requirement for Trail Blazers in England to consider the embedding of digital skills in the new apprenticeship frameworks.
You'll probably know the name Essential Skills in Northern Ireland, but in England you'll likely recognise them as 'Functional Skills', or 'Core Skills' in Scotland. In Scotland things have become particularly confused with Skills for Learning Life and Work being pushed in Schools , Essential Skills in Colleges,  while in apprenticeship frameworks Core Skills is still the brand that is used for the underpinning generic skill set. Though the superset in Schools and College are related to the core skills framework.

There is probably a separate blog post needed in figuring out why this drift apart has happened in Scotland and what should be done to fix this. I hope some thinking hats are going on - digital literacy is a sensible broadening of the narrower core skill of IT.
The Welsh government realised that IT alone was not going to equip learners to gain the dynamic digital skills they would need to support them in adapting with evolving digital technologies at home and in the workplace.

The decision was taken that from September 2015 digital literacy would replace IT as an essential skill along with employability skills, communication and application of number. Essential Skills is a compulsory element for anyone studying towards an apprenticeship or foundation learning programme in Wales.

Based around digital capabilities
The Welsh government has created a new framework of learner qualifications that incorporates all the key aspects of digital literacy models. It offers six themes across six levels, from Entry 1 to Level 3, including:
  • Digital responsibility
  • Digital information literacy
  • Digital productivity
  • Digital collaboration
  • Digital creativity
  • Digital learning
You can see the framework and the suggested models of learning and assessment in the context of the whole new Essential Skills Framework here
I will focus only on the Digital Literacy components here.
The components can easily be adapted to a checklist, a think list approach for Trailblazers in the development of their new standards.  
For  awarding and accreditation bodies across the UK many of whom have not yet looked at digital literacies as a core component of their skills offering this is a useful place to start thinking about how digital literacies should be embedded in learning and in the workplace to improve both the learner’s skill base and workplace productivity.
If you were a Trail Blazer or regulator thinking about digital literacy and skills this would be a good place to start.
Digital Responsibility
Be able to access a range of digital devices  
Know how to stay safe in a digital world and demonstrate how to interact safely in the digital world
Be able to access and use transaction based on-line services
Know what is meant by a digital footprint and know the protocols for you as an individual and within an organisation in its maintenance and demonstrate maintenance of a digital footprint.
Be able to work safely and securely in a range of digital environments
Be able to apply a range of protocols for digital responsibility and digital security in a wide range of digital communities and environments
Digital Information Literacy
Be able to select, identify and verify the source of digital information
Understand how to critically analyse and the review techniques to gather digital information
Be able to retrieve and use digital information to complete a task or solve a problem
Be able to evaluate and use digital information to complete complex tasks or solve complex problems.
Digital Productivity
Be able to open a file and use a range of input devices
Be able to present information in a digital format
Be able to open and respond appropriately to personal and business  messages
Be able to identify, maintain, resolve common digital issues   and use basic hardware.
Be able to organise, store, share, permission and protect digital information
Digital Collaboration
Be able to select and use appropriate digital tools to collaborate with others
Be able to plan, organise and apply effective and efficient collaborative working practices
Understand and demonstrate how collaboration can enhance personal professional and organisational practice
Digital Creativity
Be able to create, edit and enhance a digital resource including multimedia resources.
Be able to use a wide range of digital creative tools and techniques to complete a complex task.
Understand how to critically review, analyse and evaluate creative digital solutions.
Understand how a digital creative solution has the potential to develop opportunities for entrepreneurship and enterprise.
Digital Learning
Understand how digital technologies, tools and techniques enhance and extend learning opportunities.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Training Levy in England

I'm doing a bit of work in the English market at moment - but the Training Levy will impact across the UK - so I thought it was worth sharing this report on how policies are shaping around  how employers access their training accounts in England.

CBI  noticed in yesterday's Herald that it will have an impact on Scotland 
Report on Webinar hosted by FE On-line Nick Linford interviewing Keith Smith BIS on Operation of Levy

Keith has moved across from the Skills Funding Agency to BIS to mastermind this large scale transformation in the revenue raising and funding model for apprenticeships.

On 6th of April 2017 the new levy system will come into being and all UK employers with a pay bill of more than £3million PA will be required to pay a 0,5% levy. The collection will be through a monthly payment ( for organisations with seasonal employees there will be in-year adjustments) .  The system will be a standard one and will impact all employers across the public and private sectors that are on or above the £3 million pound threshold.

Yes, this includes Colleges, Local Authorities , Health Boards and any large public sector employer.

While I am aware that there will be a displacement effect - less public money going directly from the exchequer in to training. This is an interesting policy direction for the current UK government. In effect this is a tax on large employers to pay for training with a redistribution to the smaller employers,  who while making a contribution will benefit from access to this pot of money.  It should make employers more engaged in the standards and quality of training subsidised by the public purse and hopefully play a significant part in closing the productivity gap that exists across the UK.

The treasury expects to raise £3 billion pounds per annum through this levy and around £2.5 billion will be available for training in England.  The remainder will be available in Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland ,  who will have their own mechanisms for disbursement. However , the changed collection model  is likely to have a  net  impact on the budgets of Wales , Scotland and Northern Ireland.

But there will be a series of additional publications between now and the end of the year to provide additional guidance and clarification.

What next?

June 2016
In June 2016 there will be information about:
• provisional funding bands, which will set the maximum amount of
funding which is available for each apprenticeship from April 2017
• the provisional level of the government support that will be available
towards the cost of apprenticeship training if you aren’t a levy paying
employer, from April 2017
• the provisional level of the extra payment you can get for hiring 16 to
18 year old apprentices, from April 2017
• the provisional amount that will be paid for English and maths
training for apprentices who need it, from April 2017
• eligibility rules that set who you are able to spend apprenticeship
funding on and where
• more information on who can provide apprenticeship training and how
you can set up your organisation to deliver apprenticeship training

October 2016
In October 2016 there will be information about:
• the final levels of funding, government support, 16 to 18 payments,
and English and maths payments for apprentices starting from April
2017 full
• draft funding and eligibility rules

December 2016
In December 2016 there will be information about:
• final detailed funding and eligibility rules
• further employer guidance from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on
how to calculate and pay the apprenticeship levy 

Large and small employers will have access to a digital account and be able to commission training activity from this account . They will only be able to commission training from providers on an approved list.  ( this in England )

This  approved list  of training organisation will be known as the  register of apprenticeship training providers .  The aim of this new list is to make it simpler for employers to find and contract directly with training providers and to drive out unnecessary sub-contracts from the system. There will be new contractual terms and conditions for entry on to the approved list - these terms and conditions  will appear in June and the register will open this summer.

From January 2017 Employers will be able to open negotiations with the suppliers on the list in preparation for system coming into operation in April 2017

Between 850-950 providers support apprenticeship delivery at moment - it is likely that number may stay around the same but that more employers will become training providers and come on to the new list.  So there is an anticipation that some training providers will step back from apprenticeship delivery

Employers who come onto list will be inspected by Ofstead as will all providers delivering up to QCF Level 3

ROTO will remain in place for other training activities…

The model will still be one of co-investment for small non contributing employers they will make a contribution to their account and in return they will be able to access additional funds .  The current pilot model is that for every £1 a company invests in their training account they will be able to access £2 in return.  A cap will be in place for each framework  - the only additional payments that will remain in place are the £471 funding for both the English and Maths components.

The current pilot includes incentive payments for smaller employers , for taking on 16-18 year olds and there is a completion payment.  There is no commitment currently on incentive payments and there is still a broad discussion underway around the phasing of payments back to employers . The current system created a huge number of transactions and the hope is that a more simplified system can be put in place .  Details of this will appear in new Employer and Providers Guides that are scheduled for publication in June

From June a lot of work will start with employers so they understand how their training accounts will operate .

The Government in confident that system will be in place and be operational for April start. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Digital Skills , Digital Literacy and Apprenticeship Frameworks

I've been doing a bit of homework today on all things Trail Blazer Apprenticeship Frameworks - picking out specifically the opportunities to embed digital skills and where digital tools can be used in assessment, tracking and related processes.

Wales have already moved to an essential skills framework that includes digital literacy rather than IT as a core component. Based on  Jisc and many otherswork around digital literacy.  I like this piece on Move over ICT

In Scotland we have at the moment : Core Skills , Essential Skills , Skills for Learning Life and Work.

Perhaps it is time, with new apprenticeship frameworks on the horizon  and an all employer training levy about to arrive,  to do a bit of thinking in this space in Scotland too. Is it time to think Digital Literacy rather than Information Technology ?

As a first pass on Document Future of Apprenticeships in England 

Key Sections From Future of Apprenticeships in England 
Page 7 Future of Apprenticeships in England 

• The English and maths criterion has been extended to cover digital skills, to the
extent that Trailblazers are now required to consider whether digital skills should
be built into the standard(s) they are developing (criterion F at paragraph 85).

Page 30 

In this context, “digital” encompasses the very broad set of skills that individuals need in order to
understand, use or create the software and services we all access through devices such as computers,
tablets and ‘smart’ phones.

Page 19 

Criteria for apprenticeship standards
50.To ensure every standard is high quality there are seven criteria that all
apprenticeship standards must meet. These, together with the kind of evidence
needed to demonstrate compliance with the criteria, are set out fully at paragraph 85
but, in summary, a standard must:
A. Be short, concise and clear.
B. Set out the full competence needed in an occupation, so that, on completion,
the apprentice is able to carry out the role in any size of employer across any
relevant sector.
C. Have the support of employers including smaller businesses.
D. Be sufficiently stretching so that it will require at least a year of training (before
the end-point assessment) with off-the-job training accounting for at least 20%
of the apprenticeship.
E. Align with professional registration where it exists.
F. Contain minimum English and maths requirements and any digital skills
G. Only include mandatory qualifications under certain circumstances. 

Page 30 
As a key underpinning skill set, you should also consider whether any digital skills
are required to achieve full competence in the occupation, and include them in the standard if appropriate. 

Delivery Page 51
For all standards, the amount of off-the-job training mandated is a minimum of
20% or equivalent. We expect that all apprentices will benefit from genuine training away from their day-to-day job, but this does not necessarily need to take place away from the employer’s premises. 

EPA = End Point Assessmeent 
Assessment and a Good Assessment Plan Page 71 
• Explain what will be assessed (i.e. which skills, knowledge and behaviour
listed on the standard, and giving more detail if needed).
• Explain how the apprentice will be assessed (i.e. which method or range of
methods will be used at the end of the apprenticeship to judge competency),
• Indicate who will carry out the assessment (i.e. who will be the assessor(s) for
each aspect of the end-point assessment (EPA)),
• Propose internal and external quality assurance arrangements to make sure
that EPAs are reliable and consistent across different locations, employers,
and training and assessment organisations

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Foundation Apprenticeships in Scotland

As part of Developing the Young Workforce in Scotland  Foundation Apprenticeships are rolling out across Scotland following a pilot phase , these will create many  more opportunities for young people in Schools to engage directly with employers and colleges.

 From August 2016 these new qualifications  "Foundation Apprenticeships" will be available in the following subjects and will be available in more schools in more parts of the country.

  • Children and Young People
  • Construction
  • Engineering (energy)
  • Engineering
  • Financial Services
  • Social Services and Healthcare
  • Business Services
  • Software Development
  • Hardware and System Support.

If you work in Education you will see a dignified scramble to get these programmes up and running and learners recruited over the next month or so and Foundation Apprenticeships will increasingly figure in the subject choices available in many schools from this year onward.

These courses will be the bridge between school , college and the workplace that really change the relationship between schools, colleges  and employers.

What are the benefits ? 

The programmes involve a not inconsiderable time either in College or in the workplace. This dependent on programme but could be 2 days per week. So this is not a taster it is the real thing. 
The programmes are designed to both have a knowledge component and a component too of the Vocational workbased delivered qualification that makes up part of the full modern apprenticeship. If positioned well  this will give young people a real head start into a career if they want this,  or at least an in-depth work experience combined with workplace recognised qualifications that they can use to gain casual labour and/or use as part of their College or UCAS application. 

What are the challenges :

They will only work for the learners if schools , colleges and employers work closely together. You can see they may need a customer relationship management system if they do not already have one. 

This is changing the relationship between schools and colleges ; a foundation apprenticeship is not a taster session of the College experience for those with low national qualification grades  as many previous school/college  programmes have been in the past. 
The programmes last two years 4th and 5th  or more likely 5th and 6th year,  given the academic demand of the Foundation Apprenticeships (SCQF6), the same as a higher - the target group of pupils is a different cohort from those who may have traditionally attended College within a school college partnership arrangement. For some Colleges this will involve linking with schools that have not traditonally sent learners to College and/or working with a new cohort of teachers and learners within schools they have worked with in the past. 

The 'Foundation' is in many frameworks the core components of the full apprenticeship and this could be hard to explain to teachers and to learners and their parents. 

There will be some learners who will  wish to take the 'Foundation' but perhaps do not have the necessary National passes to secure a place and may be disappointed not to secure a place on the Foundation programme. 

The progression routes between HNC/D are well chartered,  if not always fully recognised by all universities in Scotland,  the routes from SVQ into HND and Degree are less well mapped out and the system needs to improve recognition of SCQF credit and level here. 

Its the right thing to be doing - but it will be a challenging one for many in the system. Schools will need to be prepared to support learners continuing with nationals, higher and advanced highers while allowing learners time to complete their foundation apprenticeships. Colleges will use their networks to find the employers where the work-based learning component will take place and co-ordinate the reporting of the learners progress - to schools and to parents. 

Young people will enjoy the challenges and opportunities these programmes will bring and the range of progression routes.

Progression for some will be to complete their apprenticeship , for others it might be HNC/D at a College and for others who have completed a Foundation Apprenticeship along with the necessary highers their aim will be University. 

So before I get asked - what is a Foundation Apprenticeship ?  here is part of the answer. 

Acid test,  is that if I had someone who the school was keen to get to re-sit a couple of nationals in 5th year ( but not English or Maths )  and who had an interest in one of the areas above - then a Foundation Apprenticeship would be a good option.