When researching for our Planning Innovative Assessment workshop for the NTFW, I realised that in work based learning, practitioners will often say that they can’t plan programmes in depth with their learners, because they don’t have time.
This then leads to (some) learners who don’t feel fully engaged, employers don’t know what’s going on, or understand how the apprenticeship could actually benefit them and their business.
This then leads to learners taking a long time to complete their programmes or wanting to drop off. Early leavers then put more pressure on the assessor to get other frameworks through and more bums on seats. This is the Time vs Quality Paradox.
Assessors are under so much pressure to get learners signed up or get them through their frameworks, that essential planning often gets put to one side. An employer who doesn’t understand the apprenticeship may also want that apprentice to have a quick sign up to get back to work. But there are lots of tricks being missed.
The learner just wants some time to talk and understand why they are doing this apprenticeship – how can it help them climb the ladder, get more pay, make their bosses happy, help them learn new things? This is essential to engagement throughout the learning programme. When they undoubtedly have personal troubles or high workload, they need the initial motivation of why they are doing an apprenticeship to linger on!
The employer often wants to see improvements to their business – keep their boss happy – keep their customers happy, make money! If they understand the apprenticeship and the value it can bring to their company / department, they too can provide the support that is required to make an effective apprenticeship.
This is where there is real value to apprenticeships – with good planning, the employer and learner can identify a project or improvement that can be worked on throughout the duration of the apprenticeship. The assessor can use this to plan holistically at the start of the programme.
Even the most disengaged employers, become engaged when the learner has taken responsibility for the improvement of a service; the corporate social responsibility strategy; the staff induction handbook; the testing of a new product. It just needs that time and discussion at the start of a programme as to what that could be.
But how can we break the cycle of the paradox? There are a range of solutions that need to be assessed by training providers for cost effectiveness.
Reducing caseloads, even by one or two learners, can free up an additional 3 hours a month that could be used towards planning; using e-portfolio; digital voice recorder; skype; to save administration and travel time; ensure business development are selling the benefits and value of apprenticeships for business; ensuring assessors have the knowledge and skills to plan effectively.
Without a doubt, there needs to be time for meaningful planning that involves the learner and employer. Where assessors take time for quality, their outcomes are good, their learners are happy.
So, let’s work together to try and break the Time vs Quality Paradox and deliver quality apprenticeships that employers value!
(To book on our Planning Learning Professional Learning Event, please book via https://www.ntfw.org/events/ntfw-professional-learning-events/)