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Published: 12th June 2023

Science Industry Partnership (SIP) response to the outcome of the IfATE consultation on mandatory qualifications in apprenticeships

Earlier this year, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) held a public consultation into mandatory qualifications, to which the Science Industry Partnership (SIP) submitted a response. The consultation received more than 300 responses and the outcomes have been published.

IfATE will proceed with most of the proposals it set out to change the policy for mandating qualifications in Level 2–5 apprenticeship standards. This policy does not affect the degree apprenticeship programmes.

Following the consultation, IfATE has made the following changes to its proposals:

  • Expanding the meaning of ‘labour market requirement’ to include qualifications which support progression through an established career path (thereby filling skills gaps at a later stage in an apprentice’s career).
  • Expanding ‘regulatory requirement’ to ‘regulatory and legal requirement’, which will ensure essential qualifications required by central regulators – as well as qualifications which fulfil other legal requirements but are not viewed as ‘regulations’ – continue to be mandated.
  • Including a provision to allow, in exceptional circumstances, qualifications to deliver content which goes beyond what is set out in the occupational standard.
  • Developing its position on coherence with other approvals processes, which will ensure comparable qualifications are considered for inclusion as mandated qualifications.
  • The new policy will be live from July 5 – however, this does not mean all existing apprenticeships must be compliant by then, but they will naturally need to conform to the new policy when a revision is required in the future.

This is a disappointing outcome, given the SIP’s requests to reconsider the long-term impact of not having qualifications in apprenticeships. However, we have strong representation in trailblazer groups, which should help maintain high-quality knowledge statements within occupational standards to ensure quality is not diminished in the future.

We will continue to work on the evidence requirements to mandate qualifications where we can demonstrate the demand for them. This may offer a future opportunity to design specific qualifications which meet industry needs and that could meet the new policy requirements in future revisions of standards.

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Cogent Skills is sector based, working with companies from across the Science and Technology Industries embracing Life Sciences, Industrial Sciences and Nuclear.
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