About this challenge
Apprenticeships are a big issue across FE, skills and higher education and a lot of people are struggling with how to exploit digital technologies to deliver the expansion in apprenticeships.
Read more about this challenge
We think it’s time we had fully digital apprenticeships – to meet the needs of employers and apprentices in the 21st century.
With all these changes happening the time is right to build on these reforms and embrace change and embed technology throughout apprenticeship design, delivery and assessment. Employers want to see efficient and flexible delivery models, developing the required skills whilst minimising impact to their business.
Learners/apprentices are used to accessing information when and where they want it, via smartphones. They want to access learning flexibly, studying when and where it suits them and their employer, accessing real-time feedback on assessments that they may want to read and reflect on whilst commuting, to then implement changes on arrival at work.
Travel to learn is an issue for some apprentices and employers, with relevant provision sometimes being over 250 miles away, particularly in rural and more specialised vocational areas, preventing enrolments, whilst also limiting the market for providers of more specialised apprenticeships. Do we need physical attendance in 2016?
Can technology smooth apprentice transition through apprenticeship levels and different providers as they progress in their careers and can data be used to assist these transitions by providing analytics to support data-driven decisions? Could technology support rotational apprenticeship involving multiple employers to develop holistic skills in particular sectors?
Questions for you to consider
- What are the issues and problems you have identified in embedding technology in delivery and assessment of apprenticeships?
- What are the opportunities to exploit technology to deliver high-quality apprenticeships more effectively?
- How can a data-driven approach lead to improved decision making by apprentices, employers and providers?
- Can we provide a total digital experience for all apprentices to enhance and support their learning and assessment?
- Can a digital approach help provide improved careers advice for apprentices and their parents?
This led to a rich discussion taking in themes as diverse as efficient back office systems, assessment, employability and improvement of staff digital skills.
We think some of these issues will be covered by our existing projects but we thought there were three new ideas that we wanted your feedback on.
The consultation highlighted the need to move to different delivery models. National employers want national delivery and meeting increased government targets while maintaining high quality is infeasible without the use of technology. However this throws up questions about how to deliver effectively to a wide range of learner cohorts, from 16-18 years olds used to study to adults over 50 who have years of work experience but lack qualifications, or who are seeking career progression.
Practitioners want to move to new models of delivery to meet the changing and demanding needs of the growth of apprenticeships. The challenge is, we assume that they know how to do this and have the necessary skills to embed digital technologies in the design and delivery.
Could Jisc explore whether we could deliver tools, resources, and data that anyone designing an apprenticeship could use to develop a course that makes effective use of technology and uses an appropriate mixture of online, blended and face to face learning?
Many people we talked to highlighted that there are significant challenges in assessment. The lack of approved awarding bodies in over 50% of apprentice standards and the move to end-point assessment and its separation from the delivery of training are two of the most pressing examples.
We believe technology-enhanced approaches can offer cost benefits without losing validity and reliability – eg remote verification and online proctoring and that it is essential to incorporate formative checkpoints to prepare learners for end-point assessments.
This area needs more detailed investigation before appropriate solutions can be found so we are proposing starting that exploration to identify the specific problems and explore how technology can address those problems.
Not all apprenticeships lead to permanent roles. Some employers train for their supply chain, or their needs change during the apprenticeship. This will require learners to demonstrate their skills, qualifications and experience as they seek advancement and move between employers and training providers in order to progress to higher level apprenticeships.
A related problem is that some potential apprentices struggle to find employers when transitioning from formal education to apprenticeships, as they need to be able to demonstrate suitability, often in vocational areas in order to engage relevant employers who can sometimes be small or even micro.
The consultation uncovered that whilst the use of e-portfolios and VLEs was widespread to demonstrate skills, this didn’t support the learner when seeking employment. Learners need to be able to demonstrate verified vocational and employability skills, qualifications and experiences in one place, simplifying interactions with potential employers as they progress through their careers.
Could we explore a new type of tool that allows students to easily curate and demonstrate the verified skills, knowledge, experience and qualifications they have gained, both formally and informally? To enable learners to curate and showcase experiences and activities to potential employers as they loop between study and employment during their careers.
Thank you to everyone who voted.
For this challenge we decided the most important area to focus on was the area of delivery of apprenticeships so we plan to explore whether Jisc can build a tracking, monitoring and reporting system for apprenticeships that provides a provider dashboard, an employer dashboard and an app for apprentices. This will help with the employability idea too.
Whilst the assessment idea will not be explored further at the moment, we will be producing and disseminating online guidance later this year.
We will be sharing the initial results of our exploration in May. Keep an eye on the Jisc blog for announcements.