With the 2018 GCSE and A Level results released, young people around the UK are planning their futures and deciding what path to take. For those still deciding, training as an apprentice is the perfect way to earn while you learn and gain the necessary skills needed to succeed in your chosen career path.

To see where an apprenticeship can take you, you only need to switch on your TV! Yes, you may be surprised to find that there are many successful celebrities out there who started out as apprentices and who owe their great success to their education.

Here are five celebrities who started out as apprentices and later went on to achieve global fame:

1. Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver.
Photography by Scandic Hotels, distributed under a CC by 3.0 license

You’ll know Jamie Oliver as a top celebrity chef and franchise restaurateur, but he had humble beginnings. Oliver left school at 16 with two GCSEs in Art and Geology and began his culinary career by enrolling in a home economics apprenticeship at Westminster College. His apprenticeship placements led him to work in restaurants across London and this taught him all the ins and outs of gastronomy.

Because of his success, Oliver is a fierce advocate of apprenticeships. His first restaurant, Fifteen, was a project to bring unemployed youths into the restaurant industry. Some of them have now become Michelin Star chefs!

2. Sir Ian McKellen

Sir Ian McKellen.
Photography by Gage Skidmore, distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

You’ll know Sir Ian McKellen from the iconic characters he plays on the big screen such as Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Magneto from the X-Men franchise, but he started off as an apprentice actor studying at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry for three years. Choosing the apprenticeship route instead of going to Drama School, McKellen benefitted from the work-based learning that still suits apprentices across the country. The apprenticeship gave him a solid foundation for his future acting roles and provided him with his first professional acting role in a play called A Man for All Seasons.

3. Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay.

You’ll know him from his restaurants across the globe and shows like Kitchen Nightmares, but Gordon Ramsay started off as a hotel management apprentice at North Oxfordshire Technical College. After that, he spent years learning the restaurant trade while working in various establishments. He’s now one of the most famous chefs in the world.

4. Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney.
Original author Jaguar MENA, altered by Blackcat and distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Stella McCartney is a world-renowned fashion designer and daughter of Sir Paul McCartney. McCartney had an eye for fashion from a young age and had designed her first jacket by the age of 13. Later on, her Tailoring Apprenticeship with Edward Sexton at Savile Row Tailors helped develop her skills and taught her more about the craft of tailoring. She’s come a long way since then—her fashion empire is estimated to be worth £101 million and she even designed Team GB’s outfits for the London 2012 Olympics.

5. Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson.
By author Andrea Sartorati, distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Sir Alex Ferguson managed Manchester United from 1986 to 2013 and is considered to be one of the most successful football managers of all time. But he didn’t start out working in the sport! Ferguson began his working life as an apprentice toolmaker at the Govan shipyards in Glasgow and played football in his free time. Although he ended up pursuing the sport, Ferguson learned about hard work through his apprenticeship. He also developed into a natural leader in the shipyards and used those skills to later manage Manchester United.


And there you have it! Enrolling in an apprenticeship can start your working life off with a bang. The skills you learn can take you anywhere you’d like to go! If you’d like to see how an apprenticeship can improve your career prospects, click here.

To keep up to date with the latest news from TQUK EPA, return to our blog or follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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In this week’s instalment of A View From the Inside, we interview Ash, TQUK’s star Customer Relations Officer, to get his take on the new apprenticeships landscape, the ins and outs of End-Point Assessment and the greatest fizzy drink ever created.


What happened when you left university?

I thought I was going to join the army, become an officer and have a long career…I’d wanted to be in the army since I was a kid. They wouldn’t accept an officer with a degree without certain results on their A levels, so I was looking to sit an A level in order to get in. And then I joined the Royal Engineers and got a good taste for it. Eventually, though, I realised the lifestyle wasn’t for me.

You did history in university, right?

I’m one of those boring people that could sit at home all day and watch a documentary on the Russian Revolution in 1917 and still find it interesting. There’s always something new to find, even when everyone knows the story. People think they know everything and then two years later some guy will come out of nowhere with a little bit of evidence that will flip everything on its head. When people say the past is the past, that’s true but you can still learn a lot from it. You always have a frame of reference for today.

The story of how you got hired has entered TQUK lore. Tell us about it.

It was when I was living in Wern. Beautiful part of the country, dead peaceful. It was like pressing rewind on your video player. It’s a nice place, but not for a young person. It didn’t take me long to start getting itchy feet.

I ended up coming home, started looking at jobs and that was when David, my stepdad, told me about the job. He was the postman where TQUK was in Cadishead. Andy and Katie chatted with him about the company and they mentioned that they were hiring, so he told me about it and I said, Why not?

The postal service still has its uses.

A face of the company

You’ve become the mainstay of the Client Relationship Team. What would you say is the hardest thing you’ve had to learn on the job?

The knowledge. You have to learn a lot, and you don’t stop learning.

I don’t have a background in the business side of education, so in terms of learning, I was starting from scratch. It was really interesting to learn more about the other sides of education, however – I had no idea this side of education existed. It’s possibly one of the most annoying things to explain to your mates when they ask where you work!

You’re known as the de facto face of the company. What’s that like?

It’s not a bad thing. I’m in a frontline role so it’s expected that people know who I am. It’s also really great to develop some close and familiar relationships with the people at our centres. It’s a nice feeling that people know who you are and like you. You need someone on the phones who can empathise and respond to people’s concerns. A lot of the time, people just want someone to understand their frustrations.

Wrangling with End-Point Assessment

You’ve been more and more involved in the EPA side of the business. Has it changed how you interact with customers?

The first thing was learning about it. It’s really new, but once you look at it long enough, it starts to feel familiar and gets really interesting. My approach is quite similar, though not as sales focused. More about building a rapport. EPA can be a prickly subject so you have to put in that extra effort to get people on board.

You’ve had a lot of interaction with employers and training providers. What would you say the general attitude is to the new reforms?

Some people jumped on board immediately because they knew it was staying, but I come across people here and there that think it’s temporary, that the changes aren’t going to stay. But I think people are slowly coming around to it. It’s not bad at all once you understand what it is and why it’s being done.

Why do you think it’s now up to employers to choose the EPAO?

Not sure what the original intention was, but it gets the employer more involved in the apprentice’s results and education. They’re invested, and that’s a good thing.

In order for apprenticeships to matter, employers have to buy into the value of it and do what’s necessary to provide a good education. That buy-in and investment weren’t necessarily there before, either, when all apprenticeships were covered by the government. So there wasn’t as much responsibility placed on the employer.

What’s it been like working with Kelle and the EPA Team? Has your experience with the awarding organisation side of the business been helpful?

It’s great. Kelle breathes EPA so can always help. It’s been interesting talking to centres with more of an EPA focus. I’ve generally found they are more engaged as it still seems quite new. It’s a pleasure to feel as if I’m introducing people to their next big project.

Apprenticeships in the UK

There have been a few news stories recently about the lack of EQAs for particular apprenticeships. Have you heard about anything like that from employers/training providers you’ve talked to?

The EQA should be one of the first things decided once a standard is being set up for release. If EPAOs move ahead and gain approval for a standard without an EQA, it would be a massive risk. For example, if the EPAO wasn’t also an awarding organisation, and Ofqual became the EQA, the EPAO would lose the business for that standard. They may have already spoken to employers and created resources. It should be clear from the start who the EQA is.

Are there any pros or cons to employers being in charge of creating the apprenticeship standards?

Having the creation process dominated by larger companies should show an improvement in the standard of the apprenticeship. But it leaves little independence for small companies to leave their mark and cater the apprenticeship. For example, a larger company may use the same introduction across the board whereas a smaller company may personalise or cater an introduction depending on who they’re talking to. A lot of people are starting to like the independent small shops again.

Did you ever consider doing an apprenticeship yourself?

Already completed a level 4 apprenticeship in Business and Professional Administration! Although, it’d be interesting to sit through the EPA process as a learner to really get a feel for the process. That’s one thing I think a lot of people in positions like ours are missing – the first-hand experience of the apprenticeship.

Looking back at your time at TQUK, what’s one thing you’ve accomplished that you’re most proud of?

You try to be proud of everything. I’m after the respect of others more than anything. If you needed something done, you can ask me. I’m not the type of person to get really excited when we do a big deal or make a lot of money, although that’s great. It makes me happier when I get good feedback from a customer.

3, 2, 1…

You’ve entered the lightning round! You have to answer each question within three seconds!!

Uh oh.

Tolstoy or Dostoevsky?


Coke or Pepsi?

Pepsi. Only because Pepsi Cherry Max is an addiction.

Cats or dogs?


Men or women?


The sky or the ground?


What is the meaning of life?

Pepsi Cherry Max.


Stay glued to TQUK’s blogs to for more insight on qualifications, apprenticeships, quality assurance and much, much more. To keep up to date with the latest news from TQUK EPA, return to our blog or follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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Gender Equality in Apprenticeships 

In 2016-17, the number of women starting apprenticeships in England was higher than men. 54% of apprenticeship starts were by women (262,280) whereas 46% of apprenticeship starts were by men (228,520). In fact, the number of women starting apprenticeships in England has been higher than men for every year since 2010.

Women dominate apprenticeships in sectors like customer service, children’s care, hairdressing, and health and social care. However, female apprentices are massively underrepresented in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and maths). In 2015-16, more than 72,000 male apprentices started engineering programmes in England compared to only 6,260 women.

Furthermore, according to a 2018 Engineering UK report, more than 1.2 million graduate and technician core engineering jobs will be needed across all industries from 2014-2024. However, there is currently a shortage of 37,000-59,000 engineering workers which are needed to meet an annual demand of 124,000 core engineering roles.

There seems to be an obvious solution to this skills shortage: encourage more women to go into STEM industries and STEM apprenticeships. The fact that, in 2017, only 11% of the engineering workforce was female demonstrates that women are a huge potential pool of talent that remains untapped. Companies that diversify their workforce also reap big benefits: a 2014 MIT study on workplace diversity found that offices could increase their revenue by 41% if they altered their approach to include an equal number of men and women in the workplace. Cloverpop also found that diverse workforces with members of different ages, genders and geographies made better business decisions 87% of the time.

How Can Companies Encourage More Female Apprenticeship STEM Starts?

There are a range of methods that companies have used to successfully boost their number of female apprentices. These methods — including how to attract, engage, support and retain female employees — have been neatly compiled into an apprenticeship toolkit created by WISE, ICE (the Institution of Civil Engineers) and Semta, a not-for-profit organisation determined to transform the skills of those working in the UK’s engineering and technologies sectors.

The toolkit is extremely useful for any company determined to improve gender diversity within their STEM apprenticeships. Here are a few methods that the toolkit recommends:

Attracting More Female Apprentices

On attracting more female apprentices, the toolkit recommends that companies:

  • Set clear targets and ask themselves: how many women do they have currently undertaking STEM apprenticeships, and how many would they like?
  • Ask themselves: what schools and colleges can they target to promote their STEM apprenticeships? What groups, such as women’s organisations or parent groups, can they further target to attract more women to their programme?

Engaging More Female Apprentices

On engaging more female apprentices, the toolkit recommends that companies review their recruitment process and:

  • Remove gendered language from their job adverts such as “signalman” or “3-man team”.
  • Make sure that there are images of women in the workplace on their website, as this will present a diverse and inclusive working environment.
  • If companies are using an external recruitment agency, explain to them that they’d like a diverse pool of candidates. Companies can ask to see all applications from women who meet the basic entry requirements. EDF Energy used this approach with recruiters and managed to boost their intake of women in apprenticeships from 8% to 21% in just one year.

Supporting Female Apprentices

After the recruitment process, the toolkit recommends that organisations do the following to support their female apprentices:

  • Provide one-to-one sessions with apprentices on a regular basis to discuss how they’re getting on and deal with any issues they may have.
  • Make sure that there are suitable changing facilities in their organisation, such as enough female toilets, and ensure that they’re accessible.
  • Make sure that staff are aware of the suitable language and behaviour that should be conducted in the workplace.

Retaining Female Workers

On retaining female workers once they’ve finished their programme, the toolkit recommends that companies:

  • Regularly review progress with their female apprentices and include conversations about their potential next steps in the organisation.
  • Encourage women who progress from their apprenticeship within the company and supporting them in these next steps. This may include enrolling them in further professional qualifications.


As an example of a company determined to increase the number of their female engineers, Rolls-Royce have set themselves two main targets for increasing their STEM starts:

  • To reach 6 million people through their STEM education programmes and activities by 2020.
  • To increase the number of female engineers from 9% to 50%.

To achieve this, they’ve:

  • Supported and promoted national events such as the UK Big Bang Science Fair, which has over 70,000 visitors every year.
  • Of their 60 STEM Ambassadors who support this event, 50% are women.
  • Around 30% of their 1,250 STEM Ambassadors who go out and engage with schools and communities are women.
  • Used the Rolls-Royce Women’s Network to attract and deliver girls to work events across their major sites.
  • Sponsored the Talent2030 programme, which is a national engineering competition that encourages 11-18 year old girls to solve major 21st century challenges using engineering solutions.

Their collective outreach has achieved fantastic results:

  • Rolls-Royce has doubled the number of women who are hired into their work experience placements every year.
  • 25% of their latest 14 year old Young Apprentices cohort were girls.
  • 20% of their 2016 Apprenticeship intake, advanced and higher, were girls.

The Future

The advice provided by the apprenticeship toolkit is useful to any STEM company who’d like to increase their number of female apprentices and employees. As only 11% of the engineering workforce was female in 2017, the UK still has a long way to go before it reaches full gender equality in its STEM industries. However, with the help of major companies like Rolls-Royce, the UK should be able to increase the number of women in STEM. Hopefully, as more companies come on board to a vision of an equal gendered workforce, the ratio of men and women in STEM will one day be 50/50.

For those interested in the toolkit, check out the Wise Campaign website for more details.

To keep up to date with the latest news from TQUK EPA, return to our blog or follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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Levi is our new Exams Officer who joined TQUK back in mid-July. She previously worked in the marking department at AQA, but years before that she completed a hairdressing apprenticeship on the old frameworks system.

So we thought we’d sit down with her to talk more about her experience and how it compares to the new End-Point Assessment system.

Here are the results!


What apprenticeship did you take?

I completed an NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Hairdressing six years ago, in 2012.

What was your experience like during the apprenticeship?

It was really useful. I learned a lot of practical skills and knowledge vital for the hairdressing industry. For the majority of the 12-month apprenticeship, I’d work 5 days a week at a salon. Then, once every fortnight, I’d go to my college to study theory and do more training. I completed another hairdressing course prior to this, but the apprenticeship really honed all my hairdressing skills so by the end of it I was confident in colouring, cutting and styling hair, and also dealing with clients.

Did you feel like you were properly prepared for working in that sector?

Yes definitely! The invaluable thing about apprenticeships is that you’re employed and working while you train. This means that you’ve already learned all the skills you need for your job, so you know exactly what to do once you’re qualified. Also, if you’ve done well in your programme, your employer is likely to offer you a job at the end of it! So there’s a good chance you’ll secure a job after your training, which is different to pursuing a degree in higher education where you have to find a job after you’ve graduated.

Once you receive your qualification, you also have other options. My employer offered me a job at the end of my apprenticeship, but I chose to become a freelance hairdresser instead. I also knew people who became self-employed and rented a chair in a salon to use with their own clients.

What do you think of apprenticeships as a form of education?

I think apprenticeships suit people differently depending on their learning style. If you prefer to learn practically like I do, with only a little classroom studying involved, then apprenticeships are perfect. But if you want to go down a more academic route, then pursuing higher education is a better option.

I think apprenticeships have been stigmatised a lot in the past. They weren’t viewed as an equal form of education to programmes in higher education, such as A levels or Bachelor degrees. It’s quite unfair because thinking of higher education as a more ‘valid’ form of education doesn’t take into account that people learn differently.

However, I think the view around apprenticeships is changing. There’s now more people who view further education and higher education on an equal level. I think a large part of that is because there’s a much larger range of apprenticeships available now than there were before. There are still apprenticeships in sectors such as hairdressing and hospitality, but now you’ve got apprenticeships in business, science and engineering. That means that, if someone wants to go into business, they can choose between university or an apprenticeship depending on which they’d enjoy more, which is great!

How were you assessed on the Frameworks system?

I was assessed continually throughout my programme. I had different units that focused on different aspects of hairdressing, such as styling hair, basic cutting techniques and washing hair. I’d be trained in these units, then at the end I was assessed with a short online or paper test. I also needed to compile a portfolio for each unit I completed and submit it at the end of the apprenticeship.

What do you think of the new End-Point Assessment compared to the Frameworks style of continual assessment?

I think continual assessment has its strengths, as it helped my employer and training provider see that I had the correct hairdressing skills and knowledge from one month to the next. But I think the End-Point Assessment is a better way to assess an apprentice’s skills. First of all, employers effectively write the standard. Major employers in each industry are brought together to form groups called trailblazers. These trailblazers outline all the knowledge, skills and behaviours which are required and assessed within the EPA. This means that apprentices are learning the exact skills and knowledge needed to be fully competent in their jobs. It also means that there’s less disconnect between employers and training providers, as employers are more involved in writing the apprenticeship standard. They now know that apprentices are learning everything they’re meant to at their training providers.

I also think that having a major assessment at the end allows apprentices to purely focus on learning and training for the length of their programme. Instead of having to worry about constant assessments, they can now spend their time learning the necessary skills and knowledge for their role. I also think having the assessments at the end encourages apprentices to spend significant time preparing for their EPA, which will help them achieve a higher mark.

I’ve got a friend who recently completed her End-Point Assessment on the new standard. She said that she was nervous at first, but ultimately went into it confidently, and saw it as a chance to show her assessor everything she had learned. I think the EPA should give apprentices a sense of validation in this regard. If you prepare and work hard, just like my friend, you should come away thinking “oh, I’ve actually learned quite a bit!” and feel proud of themselves.

Thank you very much for your time!

No worries!


We hope you enjoyed the interview! If you’re interested in learning more about the End-Point Assessments we provide, you can find them all here. To keep up to date with the latest news from TQUK EPA, return to our blog or follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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Functional Skills are an integral part of delivering apprenticeships in the UK.

If you’re an employer employing an apprentice or a training provider training an apprentice, you will have seen them listed as requirements on the apprenticeship standards.

No matter what apprenticeship you are delivering, your apprentice will need to provide evidence that they have achieved Functional Skills qualifications or some equivalent. (More on the equivalents later.)

What are Functional Skills?

Functional Skills are the basic skills that all people need to be able to operate confidently and successfully in work and life.

Functional Skills provide learning tools that enable apprentices to:

  • Apply their knowledge and understanding to everyday life;
  • Engage competently and confidently with others;
  • Solve problems in both familiar and unfamiliar problems; and
  • Develop personally and professionally.

Why are Functional Skills Important to Apprenticeships?

Functional Skills are a key component in all the apprenticeship standards.

Achieving a Functional Skills qualification demonstrates that an apprentice has all the skills they need in English and maths to be able to engage with their programme. They help apprentices to develop and secure the broader range of aptitudes, attitudes and behaviours.

For all apprenticeships that TQUK offers End-Point Assessment for, either Level 1 or Level 2 Functional Skills qualifications are required.

In some circumstances, achieving Level 1 Functional Skills qualifications and attempting a Level 2 is sufficient.

All Functional Skills qualifications must be completed before the Gateway stage of the apprenticeship.

With the apprenticeship standards in full swing, we’ve come across some recurring questions about what exactly can be used as evidence of Functional Skills. If you have an apprentice who may not fit the mould in terms of their Functional Skills qualifications, the following questions may help!

My apprentice does not have Functional Skills qualifications for a Level 2 or above apprenticeship. Are there any other qualifications that can act as an equivalent?

Yes, there are!

The government has provided a list of acceptable current or prior equivalent qualifications for English and Maths.

Follow the link and click on:

Functional Skills acceptable and current qualifications

This will open a spreadsheet. Scroll down to the bottom of the spreadsheet and click on one of the following icons:

Functional Skills qualifications level 2 and 3

After you click on one of the icons, the spreadsheets that appear will provide:

  • Equivalent qualifications;
  • Whether the qualification satisfies the English and/or Maths requirements; and
  • The minimum acceptable grade required for each qualification.

My apprentice has completed a diagnostic assessment. The outcome of this assessment shows that they can work at a level in English and maths that is at, or above, the required level. Does this count as sufficient evidence to satisfy the standard requirements?

No. Diagnostic assessments are not sufficient evidence to meet the requirements of the apprenticeship standard.

To be ‘assessed at a particular level’ refers to particular qualifications related to the apprenticeship (Functional Skills or GCSE) rather than another type of assessment.

Please see the Apprenticeship funding rules for training providers, P124-125 for more information:

What are functional skills achievement levels

My apprentice sat an exam some time ago that proves their ability to work at a particular level in English and maths. They do not have a copy of the certificate, but they have achieved a higher vocational or professional qualification, like a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Will this be accepted as evidence to fulfil the Functional Skills requirements?

No. As the End-Point Assessment Organisation, TQUK must ensure that the apprentice has achieved the required qualification.  You must produce evidence to that effect. Evidence of this achievement is most commonly a copy of the qualification certificate. Where overseas qualifications are being used, confirmation from NARIC is required.

If this evidence cannot be provided, your apprentice will not be able to proceed to the Gateway stage of the apprenticeship.


The TQUK team is more than happy to help with any questions or concerns you may have. You can send questions to epa@tquk.org or you can call 03333 583 344.

To keep up to date with the latest apprenticeships and end-point assessment news, return to TQUK EPA’s blog or follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

See you around The Hive!

It’s Filet Mignon Day, ladies and gentlemen!

Mhh, a whole day dedicated to this delicious cut of beef. Who could ask for more?

In assessing Commis Chef Apprentices, we see the care and dedication that goes into serving the finer cuts of meat like filet mignon. Commis chefs tend to be the most common starting position in many kitchens. They carry out basic tasks under the eye of a senior chef, and throughout their apprenticeship they’ll have all sorts of interactions with beef—identifying which cuts to use, prepping and seasoning the meat, storing different cuts in the appropriate manner and using correct knife skills to prepare the food.

So we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to give them some help! Here’s our quick guide to a few of the most popular cuts of beef: where they come from and how you might want to cook them for delicious results!

The Magnificent Cow

Diagram of cow.

First, we start with the cow itself. Just as End-Point Assessments are made up of different components—judgement tests, culinary challenges and practical observations abound—so are cows made up of different parts. The diagram above is for your reference (we’re looking at you, apprentices!), as we’ll be talking about where the following cuts come from in the animal.

Filet Mignon

Filet Mignon.
Photography by Robspinella, distributed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.

We begin, of course, with filet mignon. This piece of meat is a smaller cut of the fillet, which is taken from the tenderloin, also known as the short loin. This muscle is one of the least active on the cow, which makes its meat incredibly tender. The fillet is regarded as the king of all steaks, which explains why it comes with such a high price tag! If you can afford to dine on a filet mignon, then you’re clearly doing something right!

Apprentice cooking tip: A filet mignon should be cooked over an incredibly high heat as quickly as possible to avoid the meat drying out.


Beef brisket roast.

The brisket comes from the chest area between the shoulders of a cow, which means that it does a lot of work in its lifetime. This cut has high amounts of fat and connective tissue, which adds a lot of flavor to the meat. The brisket is usually sold boned and rolled as a full joint, and needs to be slow-cooked to render all of its fat and connective tissue down.

Apprentice cooking tip: A brisket is traditionally slow-roasted in the oven until the meat falls apart and becomes beautifully tender, like the picture above. It can also be used in pit smoking, a popular American technique that creates smoked, barbequed briskets.


Sirloin Steak meal.

The sirloin is located just above the tenderloin, at the top of the loin in the diagram, and has a good balance of fat and tenderness. Sirloins are typically sold boned and rolled, ready for roasting whole, but are also cut and sold as steaks.

Apprentice cooking tip: The customer is always right, and they’ll have their own preference for how their sirloin steak is cooked. For your own reference, we suggest cooking this steak to at least a medium, as this gives the fat time to render down so it can cook in its own juices. Mhh.

Chuck Steak

Chuck steak stew.

Chuck comes from the area around the shoulders, which is a hard-working part of the cow. This means that chuck can turn out quite tough if it isn’t cooked correctly, but it also makes it one of the most economical cuts of beef out there.

Apprentice cooking tip: Chuck has a good amount of fat and tissue that needs to be broken down. This means that chuck is best used in stews, casseroles or pies, all of which are cooked for over an hour.


We hope this guide helps all the Commis Chef Apprentices out there with your knowledge! If you’d like more help with your apprenticeship, then you can download our factsheet that’ll give you an overview of your programme, along with some very valuable tips for your End-Point Assessment.

If you’re an employer looking for an End-Point Assessment organisation, then find out more about the Commis Chef standard here.

To keep up to date with the latest news from TQUK EPA, return to our blog or follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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The Importance of HR

Every company has their employees, and HR professionals play an integral role in managing workers and upholding workplace culture. HR employees are responsible for a large range of tasks including recruiting new hires, maintaining benefits and payroll, mediating conflict and managing training and development. Effective HR management can create an inclusive and healthy working environment, and happy employees can lead to higher productivity and an increase in worker retention.

57% of businesses who invest in apprentices report that a high proportion later go into management positions within the same company. This means that apprentices are likely to remain working for the company they completed their programme with, saving them on training costs and valuable time recruiting an outside hire.

The HR Support Apprenticeship

Shaking hands.

Hiring an HR Support Apprentice will provide support to the HR department of any business, and will also teach the apprentice valuable skills relating to their HR role. HR Support Apprentices will help your business by:

  • Handling day to day queries from employees and providing HR advice;
  • Working on a range of HR processes such as recruitment, hiring, training, performance management and employee retention;
  • Keeping employee records using HR systems;
  • Providing relevant HR information to the business;
  • Providing advice to managers on a large range of HR issues in regards to company policy and current law, and giving guidance to prevent employment tribunals or legal risk to the business.

An HR Support apprenticeship will typically last for 18 – 24 months. Apprentices will develop vital skills through:

  • Delivering excellent customer service on a range of HR queries;
  • Developing communication and interpersonal skills through dealing with customers and colleagues;
  • Building strong work relationships and developing teamwork skills;
  • Developing problem-solving skills through actively listening and understanding the root causes of any problems before providing HR solutions.

The End-Point Assessment

Writing in a notebook.

The End-Point Assessment for an HR Support apprenticeship includes two components which are equally-weighted. These components are:

  • The Consultative Project
  • The Professional Discussion

The apprentice must pass each component in order to pass the apprenticeship. Here’s a table with further information about the weighting and pass marks:

Assessment Method
Pass Mark
Distinction Mark
Consultative Project


60-84 marks

85-100 marks

Professional Discussion 50% 60-84 marks

85-100 marks

The Consultative Project

Typing computer.

The Consultative Project is a 3000-word document that outlines how the apprentice has applied their knowledge and HR related skills on the job. The Project should describe a situation where the apprentice has successfully worked with a customer to deliver a specific piece(s) of HR advice or provide an HR solution(s) for them.

The content of this document should include:

  • The project objectives;
  • The scope of the work;
  • A description of the situation/problem/business need;
  • The methodology used;
  • The information gathered;
  • Any conclusions and recommendations;
  • Details of the implementation plan.

Examples of the Project might be:

  • Providing guidance to a manager or a team on a range of HR matters, including recruitment, retirement and more;
  • Taking a defined role in a larger project run by more senior members of the HR team;
  • Carrying out analysis of HR information and producing recommendations for action.

The Professional Discussion

Meeting at a table.

The Professional Discussion is conducted after the TQUK End-Point Assessor has reviewed and marked the Consultative Project. It focuses on testing the skills and behaviours outlined in the Standard, along with any knowledge and skills components that weren’t covered in the Consultative Project.

To ensure consistency, TQUK EPA will provide a bank of standard questions that the TQUK End-Point Assessor will use in the Professional Discussion. There will be 13-16 questions asked during the Discussion, each of which will focus on a single component of the knowledge, skills or behaviours listed in Appendix 1 of the End-Point Assessment plan. The Professional Discussion should last between 60 – 75 minutes.

After the Apprenticeship

Business man in a suit.

Once the apprentice has completed their apprenticeship, they can choose to develop into more advanced roles such as:

  • HR Consultant/Partner;
  • HR Manager;
  • Employee Relations Manager;
  • Training and Development Manager.

We hope this blog gave you some more insight into the HR Support Apprenticeship! TQUK EPA is dedicated to delivering quality assessments at a competitive price to ensure that employers receive confident, skilled workers at the end of their apprenticeship. When you work with TQUK EPA, everyone wins!

To keep up to date with the latest apprenticeships and end-point assessment news, return to TQUK EPA’s blog or follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

See you around the Hive!

Some Important News…

TQUK is proudly Mancunian, born and bred, which is why we adopted the honey bee as the official symbol for our End-Point Assessment service. The bee has long served as the symbol of Manchester—it’s part of the Manchester coat of arms, which was given to the city in 1842, and the symbol came to prominence once again to represent the city’s unbreakable spirit after the events of 22 May 2017. We’ve got two interesting blogs which go more in-depth on the decision, but we’ve got more pressing news to declare for this blog…

We’ve adopted a beehive!

Yes, that’s right—in collaboration with the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA), we’ve decided to adopt our very own beehive in the North West.

So buckle up, because we’re going to tell you some unbee-lievable facts about honey bees, what we’re doing to help the decline of the honey bee population and how you can help too!

What is the British Beekeepers Association?

The British Beekeepers Association was founded in 1874 and originally brought together 26 beekeeping associations to represent their interests and facilitate an educational structure, supported by an exam process, for beekeeping. Now, they’re a national charity that represents over 75 beekeeping associations across the U.K. Their main goal? To promote the craft of beekeeping and educate the public on the importance of honey bees in the environment.

Are Honey Bees Actually that Important?

Yes. Yes they are.

If bees died out, then pollination couldn’t take place. This means that there would be no new plants, no more animals, and, ultimately, no more man.

Bees are incredibly important to the production of fruit and vegetables worldwide because of the part they play in pollination. Pollination is the reproductive process where pollen grains of a plant are transferred from the anther (male part of the plant) to the stigma (female part of the plant). The fertilised egg cells then grow into seeds, which are spread and blossom into plants!

The transfer of pollen from plant to plant relies on “pollinators”. Globally, there are more honey bees than any other type of bee or pollinating insect, which means that honey bees are the world’s most important pollinator of food crops. All sorts of fruits and vegetables are pollinated by honey bees—apples, pears, squashes and strawberries being a few among many! Honey bees also pollinate foraging crops, such as field beans, which are vital in feeding cattle, sheep and other such livestock.

Bees pollinate 70 different types of crops in the U.K., which means that they contribute £400 million to the economy every year.

The Buzz is Going Down

Unfortunately, the global honey bee population is in decline. Many point to the destruction of our environment as the cause, with major factors including climate change and the use of pesticides and insecticides on our agriculture.

It’s a concerning problem to say the least. The decline of the honey bee population could have a devastating impact on our global food security. Honey bees are estimated to pollinate over 90 different food crops worldwide. If their population diminishes to a low enough level, then the world may have to say goodbye to those crops, which would have devastating effects on the global food chain.

How Does Adopting a Beehive Help?

On the BBKA ‘Adopt a Beehive’ scheme, anyone can adopt a beehive in the U.K. All of the profits go to supporting environmental and educational projects dedicated to improving honey bee health and sustainability in Britain.

One of the many projects the scheme has funded is the Ron Hoskins’ ‘Swindon Honey Bee Conservation Group’, which is working hard to breed honey bees tolerant of the varroa destructor. This parasitic mite attacks and kills honey bees, and has devastated thousands of colonies across the U.K. It is also the parasite that has the largest impact on the beekeeping industry, which means that Ron’s work may just lead to a breakthrough for honey bee health everywhere! Good on you, Ron!

When you adopt a beehive, you also receive a little box of goodies from the BBKA that includes:

  • A lovely ‘Pure British’ jar of honey.
  • A ‘Pocket Guide to the Honey Bee’.
  • A pack of pollinator-friendly wildflower seeds for our little friends.
  • A Burt’s Bees lip balm.
  • A copy of the Hive Talk newsletter, which contains some useful information about beekeeping and the various ways you can help feed honey bees.

You can see the members of our fabulous EPA team, Rochelle and Lucy, posing with some of the products below!

Here’s What They Have to Say:

Rochelle Crichton – “I think it’s a great idea! Bees are really important to the environment, and I’m proud that TQUK is supporting all the great things that the BBKA does. With help pouring in from all over the U.K., honey bees should still be buzzing for a long time to come!”

Lucy Hall—“The BBKA was really lovely, and I thought the little jar of honey and lip balm they sent us was very sweet! TQUK loves the honey bee, and we’ll strive to do everything we can to support our furry little friends.”

Thanks very much, guys!

If you’re interested in getting involved in the ‘Adopt a Beehive’ scheme, then check out the BBKA website and have a go at adopting your very own beehive!

How TQUK Can Help You

The new apprenticeship standards are designed to improve upon what’s gone before and help with the apprentice’s initial journey into their chosen career, before you know it, they’ll be on the road to success.


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