UK: The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has suspended the delivery of end point assessments (EPA) for apprentices during the coronavirus pandemic.
The practical assessment of the apprentice’s work is an essential part of apprenticeships, but this is not realistic during the current lockdown and with social distancing rules in place.
After discussions with the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), BESA had requested that an alternative to the practical element be considered, but this was deemed not possible by the awarding bodies, Open Awards and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Training (IfATE).
BESA says that, therefore, has had no choice but to put EPAs on hold until the pandemic subsides and the practical element can be reinstated.
“The awarding bodies refused to consider any alternative methods to the practical assessment,” explained BESA director of training Helen Yeulet. “BESA proposed any change would go through the Apprenticeship Board and Skills Partnership that represent both employers and enable ratification for issuing of a SKILLcard to ensure that integrity of the apprenticeship is maintained. All of our standards require this practical element, so we have no choice but to cease delivering.”
This has also led to BESA having to furlough its training staff because, with EPAs paused, there is no revenue coming into the business.
However, Yeulet said the ESFA had reassured her that there would be no long-term detriment to BESA Training or the learners, employers or providers who rely on its services – and that normal service can resume after the social distancing restrictions are lifted.
EPAs involve a series of interviews, practical tasks and questions where students are examined independent of their training provider. This is designed to give employers greater peace of mind that they are receiving apprentices with fully rounded competence ready for productive work.