Behind the Scenes: Working for the future of the apprenticeship sector 

Behind the Scenes: Working for the future of the apprenticeship sector 

Posted by Danielle Barry on Apr 5, 2018 12:30:00 PM

This month, CognAssist’s CEO Chris Quickfall delivered an exclusive workshop about supporting neurodiversity, at the apprenticeship sector’s flagship calendar event, the Annual Apprenticeship Conference.

This event sees apprenticeship employers and providers gather from across the country to hear from the sector’s highest profile leaders on the latest policy and practice.

The fourth AAC event was hosted by FE Week at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre, on 21-23 March 2018.

We spoke with Account Manager Paul Thompson, one of the CognAssist team members who attended the event, to find out where the sector’s thought leaders saw the future of UK apprenticeships going.

Why did CognAssist want to attend FE Week’s Annual Apprenticeship Conference?

The AAC attracts apprenticeship leaders from across the country, so it’s a great space for meeting and sharing ideas that help move the sector forward together. It’s important for CognAssist to have voice in this arena because we care about improving the identification and provision of additional learning needs support. It’s also important to understand where the sector is heading, so that we stay relevant and ahead of the curve.

From carrying out our own research we’re aware that typically apprenticeship providers face many challenges in identifying and supporting additional learning needs. At the event, we were able to discuss these barriers in depth with learning providers. This helps us stay on top of the everyday issues our customers have to deal with, and it helps us to come up with new, workable solutions, whether that be developing new learning modules or giving advice on access to funding.

The AAC is also just a great forum for catching up with clients and other colleagues we work with regularly. It has a really positive vibe with everyone willing and enthusiastic to talk and share new ideas.

What were the main ideas from the event that most interested CognAssist?

The biggest statistic that struck me at the event was hearing that in 2030 there will be one million jobs requiring high level specialist skills not yet being catered for within existing standards. At the same time, we will have six million low level apprentices who are then trained for roles that will cease to exist or be in far less demand.

For CognAssist this is important because we need to ensure we are developing content that remains relevant and supports the skills gap the sector will be looking to fill.

The keynote speaker workshops were lead mainly by education ministers and Ofsted inspectors. These ran throughout each day, and the predominant topics this year were on the 20% off-the-job rule and end-point assessments.

There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding 20% off-the-job – mainly about what counts, what doesn’t, how to manage it and the risks involved - particularly with apprenticeships that don’t naturally allow for time spent off the job.

Any time a learner spends training on CognAssist can be counted towards off-the-job training, which is something our CEO Chris highlighted in his workshop at the AAC.

From talking to people and attending workshops, it also became apparent to me that the end-point assessments are moving away from the traditional style of apprenticeships, and are now closer to an academic assessment.

For some apprentices, who may have never taken formal examinations before, an end-point assessment can be an intimidating experience. This got us thinking about how CognAssist interventions currently support learners in situations like this, with stress management and organisational skills, as well prompting me to consider if there is more we could do to help prepare apprentices for these assessments.

Coming away from the event, I think we will be looking to find out more about end-point assessments as this could influence how we design new learning modules or even see us develop new content specifically to support that.

What did you personally find most inspiring about the event?

Learning Curve Group was awarded ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Development of Apprenticeships at the AAC inaugural awards ceremony. Learning Curve Group’s Beej Kaczmarczyk delivered a powerful opening speech to the event, during which he talked about the evolution of qualifications over the years.

His key message was that we have had to overcome many challenges in the sector, many times before, and we have always delivered excellent learning provision to our learners. I think it’s empowering to hear our sector thought leaders speak so confidently about how we always can and will make things work, in an ever-changing industry.

This Interview was with CognAssist Account Manager Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson is an Account Manager for CognAssist and is responsible for ensuring we provide an outstanding level of service, experience and outcomes for our customers post-on-boarding.

If you are interested in understanding more about how CognAssist can support your apprentices in their studies, get in touch with Paul using his contact details below.

Paul Thompson   PAUL

CognAssist Account Manager   






Topics: News

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