It’s December and you know what that means… the Christmas season is finally here!

Yes, the advent calendars have been ripped into, the shops have put up their decorations and the Elton John adverts are taking over the TV. Christmas time is here and the holiday spirit is positively palpable.

The TQUK office is always festive when December rolls around. So, we thought it’d be good to share some of our wisdom and recommend some tips to our Management and HR apprentices on how you can keep the holiday cheer up in your own office!


Katy, TJ and Kit in front of the TQUK Christmas tree

Your employees see the same four walls every day, so jazzing up your office with Christmas decorations is the perfect way of bringing the festive spirit to your workplace! The options are endless: Christmas trees, fairy lights, fake snow, a giant inflatable Santa… the more creative the better!

To involve all of your staff, why not ask them to bring in decorations that they’re not using at home? You could even host a best-decorated desk competition and add some competitive spice into the mix!

Secret Santa

Presenting a present

An age old tradition in offices across the world, but a welcome one. A Secret Santa exchange is a great way of bringing the Christmas spirit into your work. It ensures that every employee receives a gift every December, and generates some excitement when your staff play the guessing game after all the names have been drawn! Just be careful to set an inexpensive budget and a deadline so that no staff are left behind if anyone takes annual leave!

If you’d like to go the digital route, then Draw Names is a good online Secret Santa Generator. Invite all your staff to the website and it’ll ensure that no one draws their own name. It also includes a wish list function so that you don’t have to ask your Secret Santa what they want.

A Nice Christmas Do

Christmas dinner table

Treating your staff to a Christmas party is a great way of ending your year on a bang.  There’s a large range of options depending on your budget – a traditional office Christmas party, a round of drinks at the local pub, or even a nice gala in a hotel! Your staff work tirelessly throughout the year, so a nice treat like this goes a long way!

TQUK have already had our Christmas do this year, but unfortunately all evidence, err photos, have disappeared from the night. Crazy!

Christmas Songs

Choir angel statues

Some workers hate them, but there is no escape! The classics must always be considered: ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’, ‘Sleigh Ride’ and ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ are a few among many. There are also modern remixes from those currently big in the music industry, and you should never forget Michael Bublé! We recommend the ‘Christmas Classics’ and ‘Christmas Hits’ playlists on Spotify if you’d like any suggestions.

Just be careful to pace yourself with your Christmas music – if you blast the songs all day from the beginning of December until the end, then you might have an office riot on your hands!


And there you have it! A few tips from TQUK Towers on how you can bring merry cheer to your office and have a spectacular holiday season! To keep up to date with the latest news from TQUK EPA, return to our blog or follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

See you around The Hive!

We know the benefits that apprenticeships can bring to apprentices and businesses alike. They’re one of the best ways to train individuals in their job role and teach them skills that have practical and real-world applications that help both their business and the UK economy grow.

What’s the Healthcare Situation?

Although multiple sectors across the UK are currently experiencing a skills shortage, no sector feels this shortage more keenly than healthcare.

According to Health Education England (HEE), the NHS is currently short of 42,000 staff including nurses, midwives and therapists. Staff shortages are particularly bad in mental health services, with more than 20,000 positions vacant for mental health staff in the English NHS. There is also a demand for more ambulance staff, with ambulance services in England short of almost 1,000 frontline staff.

There are multiple factors that contribute to this staff shortage. Firstly, the UK’s growing ageing population will require more healthcare services, putting more strain on the NHS and private health services. The clinical workforce is also ageing. UK nurses have an average age of 42 and 29% of nurses are aged over 50. When these workers retire, there will be a huge shortage of staff in the industry, which means that the healthcare sector must take action soon to deal with the future loss of these workers.

The current shortage of healthcare staff is already affecting the industry. According to a survey which interviewed more than 1,000 NHS employees, 80% of respondents including nurses, doctors and managers raised concerns about there being an insufficient amount of staff on duty to give patients high-quality care. One senior nurse who worked in a large A&E department said that she had to regularly manage over double the number of patients her department had capacity for, with another midwife adding that “on average, every other shift is short staffed.”

The HEE warns that the health service workforce will need to increase by 190,000 workers by 2027. The industry must be able to cope with this increase in demand for health care staff in the next few years.

So what’s the solution?

How Apprenticeships Can Help

Investing in apprenticeships is a great way to address the staff shortage problem in the healthcare industry and create a dedicated, capable and long-term workforce that will secure the future of the health service. Taking on apprentices also offers organisations a large range of benefits.

As we talked about in a previous blog, apprentices can offer businesses innovative solutions to old problems. They also increase productivity, as research has shown that employers who had an established apprenticeship programme had their productivity improved by 76%. Apprentices can also help decrease staff turnover, as nurturing apprentices throughout their programme can secure their loyalty to their company. Whitbread found that their turnover rates were 15% lower on the apprenticeship level, while nearly three-quarters of their apprentices stayed with the company for more than 12 months, compared to only a quarter of non-apprentices.

The NHS is subject to a public-sector target of 2.3% apprenticeship starts every year, which means that they already offer apprenticeships in a range of levels and careers. There are apprenticeships available across a range of jobs like Ambulance Practitioners, Clinical Healthcare Support, Emergency Care Assistance and many more.

There are many other healthcare apprenticeships out there. Some of the apprenticeships we offer End-Point Assessment for include Adult Care Worker, Healthcare Support Worker and Healthcare Assistant Practitioner. These apprenticeships will be vital in training staff to do the important, everyday work of the health service.

Adult Care Workers help provide support to individuals who face physical, emotional or intellectual challenges so that they can live as safely and independently as possible. Increasing the number of these apprenticeships will provide much needed care to the ageing UK population, as Adult Care Workers can work in residential or nursing homes, day centres, an individual’s own home and more establishments.

Healthcare Support Workers work as part of a team to deliver care to those who need it the most. They have a range of clinical duties including monitoring health conditions and tracking the recovery of their patients. An increase in Healthcare Support Worker apprenticeships will help a large variety of healthcare organisations, as after their programme, apprentices can work in hospitals, community clinics, mental health settings, GP surgeries and more.

Healthcare Assistant Practitioners work at a level above Healthcare Support Workers, and have a more in-depth understanding of the factors that influence health and ill-health. They will have skills and experience in a particular area of clinical practice. Upon completing their apprenticeship, Assistant Practitioners can work in most departments in the NHS. They will also be able to mentor healthcare assistants, trainee assistant practitioners and student nurses and provide support to the next generation of workers. If you’re interested in seeing the rest of the healthcare apprenticeships we offer EPA for, click here.

The good news is that there are already a large number of healthcare apprenticeships available. It is now up to healthcare organisations, both public and private, to promote and push the apprenticeships they offer. This way, they can increase their numbers and fill their staff shortage. They will also be rewarded in the long run with a large number of dedicated, quality staff that will help the health service survive for future generations.


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

See you around The Hive!

In this week’s installment of A View from the Inside, we chat with Kelle McQuade, TQUK’s Head of End-Point Assessment Organisation, about EPA, the Apprenticeship Levy, her pride in helping learners and what employers and training providers need to think about when conducting an End-Point Assessment.


When I Grow Up…

Where are you from?

I started off in Milton Keynes, moved to Nottingham for ten years and then moved back to Milton Keynes for a long while… almost 25 years now!

Did you go to college or university?

Did A levels at college — French, Drama and History.

Why those?

Some of that was driven by my secondary school teachers. I had this one great French teacher. There were only three of us in her class at A level so the teaching experience was very close. History, I loved. I had another great teacher. He’s still teaching Music now and also just made his first movie. He was brilliant. And Drama just because I’m ever so dramatic.

What do you think your younger self would think of you today?

I think she might be surprised. I’m a little too sensible. I always wanted to be an ice skater. I equally thought I would do something within the performing arts. Turns out I can’t act, so that was out. But I definitely didn’t think I’d end up in education.

Would it really be so surprising?

When you’re young, you’re told you can do anything. You think you’ll grow up to be an actor or an astronaut. But then you turn around and say, “Hang on, this job that I was only supposed to be in for 15 months turned out to be a 15 year career.” You let things grow organically and learn not be too prescriptive about taking a particular path.

Beginning in education

When some people look back on their careers, they see the path they took as almost inevitable. Did that ever happen to you?

Yeah, actually.

The first teaching role I had was working with NEET learners aged 16-25 through the Prince’s Trust trying to give people a second chance.

It wasn’t a traditional classroom setting. When I was working at the leisure centre, I set up a rookie lifeguard programme. It was for learners who had been on their swimming lesson programme and wanted to know what came next. It kept them engaged.

We applied and got accredited to deliver the course. It was from there that a couple of lessons got taken on by a couple of schools. One of them was in one of the more deprived areas of Milton Keynes.

Sometimes, the internally suspended students would end up in our bar area. When the PE lessons were happening in the leisure centre, they weren’t allowed to take part, but they also weren’t allowed to be home. I ended up just talking to some of these students.

I remember one of them gave me so much abuse. He wanted to call everyone every name under the sun. But one day, I said to him, “What happens if I tell you my name, and you call me that?”

I don’t know how it happened, but it worked. The next time I saw him he was like, “Oh, Kelle mate, how are you?” And I thought, “Wow.” So I said, “I’m good, how are you? How was your day?” He’d say he wasn’t back in lessons yet because this happened and that happened, so we sat down and had a chat. Every time he came in he seemed a little bit calmer and a little bit more respectful to the staff.

Did you keep in touch with him?

I still see him. And he seems to be a very well rounded person, very lovely. Lots of my students have gone on to do some really wonderful things.


You were Head of Curriculum and Innovation at Milton Keynes College. What did that involve?

I was in charge of quality and professional development. That meant I organised cross-college teaching and learning fairs, looked after the teacher training curricula and reviewed our assessor and IQA qualifications. I also had a team of innovation leaders — outstanding practitioners who taught maybe ten hours every week and taught other members of the training staff to develop their practice. We asked ourselves: what could we do to improve the learner experience and make sure that teaching, learning and assessment were as good as they could be? We wanted our learners to achieve the best results, whether that meant going for jobs, applying for an apprenticeship or going into higher education.

What was your first impression of TQUK?

Very different from other Awarding Organisations. Talking to Andy didn’t feel like a sales pitch. It felt very relaxed and open. He seemed to understand what training centres’ frustrations were. That certainly struck a chord with me. I was head of quality and point of contact for all Awarding Organisations when I worked at the college. There were frustrations with other organisations and how they operated. So there was something different about what TQUK were offering.

When you started at TQUK you were BDM, then moved to head of EPAO. Could you talk more about that?  

It was almost a natural transition. My background lent itself a lot more to EPA. It was brilliant to be involved with creating the EPAO from day one. I was already involved in the thick of the EPA conversations, looking at the directions we might go in. We needed to identify a decision maker and I guess I was just best placed. When it came down to the day to day nitty gritty of EPA, that was where I needed to be.

When you came in, the whole sector was getting used to the new reforms. What was it like to jump into a new regulatory landscape?

Coming from a college into an Awarding Organisation is so different. I don’t think I really appreciated all the work that an Awarding Organisation does. I certainly underappreciated the massive amounts of work that TQUK does with the staff size. When I started, I was overwhelmed and impressed with what was being achieved by the team. I still continue to be.

But I think coming in at a time whilst I was having to learn all about awarding and not having been exposed to the behind the scenes aspects of that before, there was a certain comfort that everybody was learning about EPA at the same time. You’re laying the track as you go along with everybody else. Unfortunately, that means that sometimes the information you need isn’t there yet — we’re still experiencing that on a weekly basis. I get impatient — I want everything to be perfect, and I want it to be perfect right now!

Guiding employers and training providers through the final assessment

What’s one question you get asked by employers or training providers that you hear too often?

What we seem to get asked a lot about recently is the 20% off-the-job training. Sometimes with that, it’s just a matter of linking people to the right information. We also get a lot of questions about VAT and how that’s different for levy and non-levy payers — where the cut-off points and the variations are. These things can get pretty complex and they need to get sorted out.

What’s one thing you wish employers or training providers knew already going into EPA?

The one thing I would say is that just because it’s called ‘End-Point Assessment’ doesn’t mean they don’t have to think about it until the very end. You need to start thinking about it at the very beginning because you need to know what that assessment is going to look like. We expect to have employers or training providers knocking at the door saying they’ve got a learner at Gateway, can we help? People should come to us at the start. That way, we could advise on the best practices throughout the process. We expect to see that shift over the next six months.

In the FE media, the reforms seem to be fairly controversial. Employers and training providers are raising concerns about how to implement the off-the-job training requirement and how the Apprenticeship Levy isn’t working. How do you address those concerns and still get people on your side?

One thing we always try to do is take the headache away from the partners we work with. We make it clear from the beginning that we know what we’re doing and understand assessment. We were very early to market with EPA so we learned some very valuable lessons with an initial low volume of learners. We’re now so well-versed that the volume has increased massively and we’re able to pass those key messages and lessons onto employers. It’s important for us to be that calm face that can offer reassurance and provide answers where we can. And where we can’t, we’re able to make some pragmatic, educated assessments of the situation. We have a reputation for being one of the best and most knowledgeable EPAOs in England — and we want to keep it that way.

Thoughts and reflections

Looking back on your time in education, what’s the one thing you’ve accomplished that you’re most proud of?

I’m really proud when I see a learner — whether it’s a student or a member of staff — achieve their goals. I get to think, “I had something to do with that.” Those are the things that matter, and that’s why we do what we do — to see the end product of the services we deliver.

What about situations you look back on that make you think, “I could’ve done that better”?

When I was first teaching the NEET program covering social skills and social development, half my students were older than I was. Sometimes, you can struggle when you’re trying to offer help and it isn’t being accepted. But it isn’t until you’re a bit older that you can reflect back and think, “They weren’t in a place to acknowledge or receive that help. It wasn’t about you. It wasn’t personal.”

You’re one of the only real athletes in the office. Was exercise always a big part of your life?

I’ve always been very sporty, played hockey and netball. I’ve always been very accident-prone too. As we sit here I’m three weeks into a sprained ankle. (Laughs.)

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Mai Tais on a beach! (Laughs.)

Professionally, who knows? I don’t try to predict these things – the landscape in education is always changing. If you told me two years ago I’d be head of EPAO for an Awarding Organisation, I wouldn’t have believed you. I just enjoy the ride.

Lightning round!

You’ve now entered the lightning round! You must answer the following questions within 3 seconds or less!!

Oh God!

Who do you think would win in a fight: old Godzilla or new Godzilla?

Haven’t seen either, so couldn’t say.

Men or women?


How many streets have you lived on?

Too many, probably about 20.

Favourite member of Take That?

Gary Barlow.

What animal does Ash have tattooed on his arm?

I think it’s supposed to be a bee but it ended up being a wasp.

Love Island or Survivor?


Favourite person in the office?

Katie, for sure.

Biggest pet peeve?

People who eat too loudly.

Favourite flavour of Fanta?

Lemon, but only while on holiday.

What is the meaning of love?

When you feel fizzy.

Like Fanta…


Thanks for your time!



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

See you around The Hive!

Our EPA team is constantly working hard to add to the list of apprenticeship standards we deliver End-Point Assessment for. As a result, we’re in the works to deliver EPA for five more standards in the very near future!

Here’s a sneak peek of all the standards to come:

Teaching Assistant

Teaching Assistants can work with students across all ages in Primary, Special and Secondary education, including those who have special educational needs or emotional vulnerabilities. Their primary role is to support their class teacher and enhance their pupils’ learning by ensuring that they understand the work set, know their learning objectives and stay on task in order to make sufficient progress.

In this apprenticeship, apprentices will learn key skills such as how to support their pupils towards independent learning, how to implement effective behavior management strategies and how to work closely with teachers to ensure that their own contributions align with the teaching objectives.

The End-Point Assessment components for the Teaching Assistant Apprenticeship include:

  • Practical Observation with a Question & Answer session
  • Professional Discussion with a Portfolio of Evidence included

Successful apprentices can progress into a number of career paths in the Educational sector such as Higher Level Teaching Assistant, Assistant Teacher and Teacher.

IT Technical Salesperson

An IT Technical Salesperson specialises in selling the technical products and services of a company, such as data storage and cloud services. They must maintain good relationships with existing clients and approach potential customers with the aim of winning new business. They should also maintain a good understanding of existing and new technologies that are emerging.

In this apprenticeship, apprentices will gain knowledge of the basic elements of computer systems, learn how to negotiate and close sales and acquire a thorough understanding of the business products they are selling.

The End-Point Assessment components for the IT Technical Salesperson Apprenticeship include:

  • Summative Portfolio
  • Synoptic Project
  • Employer Reference
  • Interview

Those who are successful in completing their apprenticeship are eligible to apply for registration onto the Register of IT Technicians.

Associate Project Manager

Associate Project Managers help manage business projects by using their resources and management skills. They will know what needs to be achieved, how it will be achieved, how long it will take, how much it will cost and will work with the project team to achieve the required outcomes.

In this apprenticeship, apprentices will learn valuable skills such as how to develop project budgets, how to prepare and maintain project schedules and how to respond to any project issues.

The End-Point Assessment components for the Associate Project Manager apprenticeship include:

  • Presentation supported by a Portfolio of Evidence
  • Professional Discussion supported by the same Portfolio of Evidence

On starting the apprenticeship, apprentices can become student members of the Association for Project Management (APM). After they complete their apprenticeship successfully, they can then become eligible for associate membership. Full membership can later be attained through further experience and professional development.

Learning and Development Practitioner

Learning and Development (L&D) Practitioners are responsible for identifying learning and training needs within a business and designing training programmes to improve their organisation.

In this apprenticeship, apprentices will learn valuable skills such as how to identify and analyse learning needs, how to design training resources to meet these needs and how to monitor a learner’s progress to deliver motivational and developmental feedback.

The End-Point Assessment components for the L&D Practitioner Apprenticeship include:

  • Work Based Project and Professional Discussion
  • Presentation based on a Learning Journal

Apprentices who successfully complete their apprenticeship are eligible to apply for Associate membership of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) or any other professional body that recognizes this apprenticeship within its membership criteria.

Learning and Development Consultant / Business Partner

Learning and Development (L&D) Consultants are responsible for identifying areas of improvement in individuals, groups and organisations and finding appropriate learning and development solutions to improve their organisation. L&D Consultants must also measure the outcomes and return on investment of any learning interventions they implement. This role can exist in a range of organisations that span across the private, public and third sector.

In the apprenticeship, apprentices will learn a range of valuable skills including how to identify organisational skills gaps and risks, how to present a range of innovative solutions to fill these gaps and how to construct and manage an L&D project.

The End-Point Assessment components for the L&D Consultant Apprenticeship include:

  • Work Based Project with Professional Discussion
  • Presentation and Q&A based on a Learning Journal

Just as with the L&D Practitioner, apprentices who successfully complete their programme are eligible to apply for Associate membership of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) or any other professional body that recognizes this apprenticeship within its membership criteria.


We hope you enjoyed that little taste of the new standards to come! If you’d like to see the existing range of apprenticeship standards we provide EPA for, 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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“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker

Managers are an integral part of every business. Although their day-to-day duties differ, managers must oversee their employees, manage their budget and departmental goals and carry out all their duties in accordance with their company’s vision. A great manager juggles all of these elements seamlessly while creating a fantastic work environment where their employees are motivated and happy to work.

We thought we’d get some insight from our wonderful TQUK staff members about what makes a great manager. Here are their thoughts:


Jana Jassova, HR Officer: “A great manager is someone who is honest, approachable, supportive and communicative. Someone who remembers that every staff member is a different individual with different needs. Someone who can lead others to success.”

Levi Clements, Exams Officer: “I think a great manager is somebody who listens to you and encourages you fully, even when you struggle. I also think that great managers are considerate, fair and approachable, which creates an open work environment where employees feel that they can communicate at any time.”

Thomas Concannon, Junior Graphic Designer: “A great manager is able to communicate well with their team and doesn’t act as if there are any barriers between themselves and their staff. They also give constructive feedback so that their employees can learn from their mistakes and grow as a result.”
Kit Jenkin, Content Officer: “A great manager is someone who’s able to effectively motivate their team, discovering the best qualities in every person and creating roles and environments where those qualities can be fully realised. Managing also means showing leadership and providing clear direction and boundaries.”

Samuel Rossiter, Content Officer: “I think a great manager leads by example and creates a positive and rewarding work environment which their staff are happy to walk into every morning. I also think great managers trust their employees, and allow them the space and time to manage their own work. This empowers their staff and allows them to thrive!”

Matt Garrod, Client Relationship Officer: “A great manager knows how to keep their team and staff motivated throughout the week. Regardless of whether it’s a Monday or a Friday, they should receive the same level of enthusiasm no matter what!”

Ash Smith, Client Relationship Officer: A great manager understands the strengths and weaknesses of their team and uses this knowledge to properly develop their members. They’re also great in bringing their ideas to the table, using their team’s strengths to work together and bring these to life. It also helps if they can keep team morale high!”

Rochelle Crichton, End-Point Assessment Officer: “A great manager is approachable, open to suggestions and actively looking for changes and improvements to help their team and department. A great manager is also happy to guide and assist their staff when necessary. They should understand the pressure and stress you may be under and be appreciative of you as an individual.”


There you go! Our TQUK members value honesty, approachability, great communication and the ability to develop their team in their managers. We’re grateful to our Senior Management Team for embodying these values here and driving TQUK forwards while helping their employees every step of the way!

If you’re interested in pursuing a managerial position, then why not earn while you learn and enroll in a management apprenticeship? To start exploring, check out the range of management apprenticeship standards we provide End-Point Assessment for 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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If you’re interested in enrolling in an apprenticeship, then you’ve come to the perfect place. To give you that final push towards applying for an opening, here are five awesome reasons to become an apprentice!

1. Earn While You Learn

The cost of post-16 education can be a massive stumbling block for many people.

English universities can charge up to £9,000 per year for an undergraduate degree for local students, which totals £27,000 for a typical three year undergraduate degree. Many students must borrow more than this from the government to cover other living costs, so at the end of their degree they may graduate with around £35,000 of debt.

Compared to university, not only is it free for apprentices to enroll in an apprenticeship, but you also earn an income while you work! Additionally, you must be paid for both your normal working hours and any apprenticeship training you undertake at your training provider throughout the week.

2. Incredible Range of Choice

There is a huge variety of apprenticeships offered by businesses of all sorts! You can now become an apprentice in sectors like agriculture, beauty, business and IT, engineering and so much more. So, regardless of what career you’re interested in, there will be an apprenticeship out there that’s perfect for you!

To start exploring, why not check out the range of apprenticeship standards we provide End-Point Assessment for?

3. Practical Work Experience

In an apprenticeship, most of your learning is done on the job. So, if you prefer to learn practically, then the style of training provided in an apprenticeship is perfect for you! Additionally, because you’ll be working in real work environments, you’ll learn loads of skills specific to your job and industry. This valuable work experience will put you a step above fresh graduates from university, as they often struggle to find work because of their lack of experience.

4. Great Option for School Leavers

The 2018 GCSE and A Level results were recently released and for 16-18 year olds leaving school, an apprenticeship is a great option to consider. Apprenticeships are designed to take individuals who have no experience in a role and fully train with the necessary skills and experience needed to excel in their job. This is perfect for school leavers who have little experience or training in their desired career, as they will gain all of this in their programme.

You also have a great chance of securing a job with your employer after your apprenticeship! 90% of apprentices stay in employment after their apprenticeship, with 71% of those staying with their apprentice employer after the end of their programme. In this tough job economy, apprenticeships are a great option to start off your career!

5. But Anyone Can Become An Apprentice!

Apprenticeships are a popular option for young people, but don’t be fooled! There is no age limit for an apprenticeship—anyone over the age of 16 not in full-time education can enroll. So, for those who are interested in changing their careers, or who’d like to move into a job that requires a different skill set, an apprenticeship is the perfect opportunity for a brand new start.


If you’d like to see where an apprenticeship can take you, check out our blog on 5 Celebrities Who Started Out As Apprentices.

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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Hiring an apprentice brings a large range of benefits to your business while helping out the hundreds of thousands of people around the UK who are looking for work. Apprenticeships are designed to train individuals with little or no experience in a role into workers who have all the skills needed to excel in their job. As an employer, the time you spend investing in your apprentices will help them become excellent employees dedicated to improving your business.

Here are five fantastic reasons why you should hire an apprentice:

1. You Increase Your Productivity

Hiring an apprentice is a fantastic way for your business to grow its talent and develop a motivated and highly skilled workforce. Because apprentices earn while they learn, they’ll be trained in the latest industry knowledge while developing vital skills that’ll benefit your business, all the while receiving a wage.

An apprentice can also increase your company’s productivity! According to research conducted by the National Apprenticeship Service, employers who had an established apprenticeship programme reported that productivity in their workplace had improved by 76%, while 75% reported that hiring apprentices improved the quality of their product or service.

2. You Decrease Staff Turnover

Hiring an apprentice means training and nurturing them throughout their entire programme. Investing time and energy in apprentices like this can really secure their loyalty to your company and help decrease your staff turnover.

For example, Whitbread, the UK’s largest hotel, restaurant and coffee shop operator, focused on improving staff retention in their apprenticeship programme, as it was a business challenge for the organisation. Their findings were great: for entry level, back-office roles, turnover rates were 55%, while on the apprenticeship level this was reduced to 40%. Furthermore, when calculating retention rates, nearly three-quarters of their apprentices stayed with the company for more than 12 months, whereas only a quarter of non-apprentices did.

As a result of these numerous apprenticeship benefits, the company has set an ambitious target to recruit 1,500 more apprentices into the business over the next two years.

3. You Benefit From Fresh Thinking

Apprentices can bring new ideas into your organisation and develop many more as they gain experience in their role.

CBI Magazine asked a variety of businesses why they hired apprentices. Tricia Vincent, Training and Competency Manager at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, said that “Inquisitive and curious minds enable us as a business to progress, develop and innovate. Our apprentices complete some quite complex projects that push not only their newly acquired engineering skills, but also encourage their ability to problem solve. We empower them to make suggestions on improvements and present their ideas.”

At the Manchester Airport, Press Office Manager Seb Thompson also talked about the benefits he received from having a social media apprentice: “It has made a real difference and brought a new perspective that you don’t get through the normal recruitment process. They are totally immersed in the digital world. And as they learn and develop with their qualification we have seen them bring in a wealth of innovative ideas and trends so the whole team actually ends up learning something new.”

4. You Contribute To Your Community

Hiring apprentices ensures that your business gives back to the local community by helping combat youth unemployment in your area. By doing this, you’ll help create a skilled workforce that’ll drive your company forward and enhance your organisation’s image in the process.

According to research conducted by the Centre for Business and Economics Research in 2015, offering apprenticeships was perceived by two-thirds of the public as contributing to society and providing opportunities for young people. As a result, five million consumers are more likely to buy from an apprentice employer and one in four consumers would even pay more for goods and services from companies that employ apprentices.

5. You Use Your Apprenticeship Levy Contribution

If your business has a payroll of £3 million or more, then you must pay the apprenticeship levy whether you employ an apprentice or not. This levy is charged at a rate of 0.5% of your company’s pay bill, and as an employer, you’ll be given 18 months to spend each payment.

So why not use it? By hiring apprentices, you can ensure that your levy doesn’t go to waste and spend that money on attracting great young talent and developing your staff to benefit your business in the long run.

A win-win all around!


And there you have it — five great reasons why your company should hire an apprentice! If you’d like to see the range of standards we provide End-Point Assessment for, click here. Otherwise, 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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TQUK EPA was the first End-Point Assessment Organisation to pass apprentices on three new standards, including the Adult Care Worker, Commis Chef and Hospitality Team Member standards.

Now, we’ve done it a fourth time.

In partnership with Creative Support, TQUK EPA is proud to announce that we’ve passed the first apprentice on the Lead Adult Care Worker Standard!

Lee Wild became the first apprentice to be passed on the Lead Adult Care Worker standard on the 1st August 2018. She received a Merit overall for her hard work, and both TQUK and Creative Support are delighted with the results.

TQUK EPA and Creative Support have worked together to pass apprentices in a variety of standards. We passed the very first apprentice, Sona Peskin, and the first apprentice in the UK to receive a Distinction, Joseph Bailey, on the Adult Care Worker standard.

The Lead Adult Care Worker standard is the next level up from the Adult Care Worker standard. Lead Adult Care Workers help care for adults with support needs so that they can achieve their personal goals and live as independently as possible. They are also expected to provide frontline leadership and guidance to other care workers.

Committed and Hard-Working

Everyone working with Lee was impressed with the hard work and commitment she displayed throughout the programme.

Her On Programme Assessor, Miltos Baralos, said:

It was clear throughout her apprenticeship that Lee had the experience and knowledge needed to carry out her duties. We worked together—she showed interest in developing her knowledge and I supported her to achieve this. We had effective communication and regular contact. During the face to face meetings, we had Professional Discussions on different subjects for her qualification and Lee found this very helpful.

After she completed her mock Multiple Choice Test, I contacted Lee and we went through her results together. I also discussed with her, in more detail, the components she would need to be aware of during her Professional Discussion, which was the concluding assessment element to her End-Point Assessment.

Before Lee’s EPA meeting with her End-Point Assessor, I was contacted by TQUK to discuss the assessment arrangements. It was good for me to be contacted by the End-Point Assessor and the EPA Coordinator, as it felt very personal and helpful. I was happy with the approach given by TQUK, as they gave prompt feedback on the apprentice’s assessment outcomes, which was very important.”

Janet Glentworth, the Vocational Centre Manager for Creative Support, had this to say:

Creative Support are proud to train the first Lead Adult Care Worker apprentice. It was tough at times, as the standard was new to us all, but Lee and her assessor were willing to take the challenge on board, and this has resulted in Lee achieving a Merit. Lee and her assessor also commented on how much the apprenticeship training helped her develop a more rounded approach as a learner than only undertaking a diploma in Health and Social Care.

Receiving the End-Point Assessment through TQUK has also affirmed that Lee has met the national standard through their rigorous assessment. This has resulted in Creative Support achieving another first with TQUK.”

Kelle McQuade, Head of EPAO at TQUK, also chimed in with her thoughts:

We’re very excited that we’ve completed Lee as the first Lead Adult Care Worker Apprentice in the UK. Having now been the first EPAO to complete apprentices on four new standards, we’re really starting to flourish as an EPAO. Our organisation grows every day and we consistently keep adding new standards to our EPA offerings.

“We’ve worked with Creative Support in the past and have always been really pleased with the care and support they’ve provided their apprentices. This case has been no different—Creative Support have provided Lee with fantastic help from the very beginning and everyone involved in her programme, Miltos included, should be really proud of her achievement.

“I’d like to extend my congratulations to Lee and all the staff at Creative Support who’ve helped her on her journey. You should all be proud of yourselves! Here’s to TQUK and Creative Support achieving more firsts in the future!”

If you’d like to see the other apprenticeship standards we deliver End-Point Assessments for, then 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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We have some exciting news today!

TQUK EPA has been approved to deliver end-point assessment (EPA) for six more apprenticeship standards!

We look forward to working with our training providers to assess the next generation of professionals in retail, hospitality and catering.

Find details on our new standards below:


Retailers can work in a variety of shops such as high street chains, supermarkets and department stores. They are dedicated to assisting customers and providing quality service that exceeds expectation. In this apprenticeship, apprentices will learn key skills such as how to serve customers in line with the brand’s standards, how to use a till and process payments and how to use a variety of sales techniques to complete sales.

The End-Point Assessment components for the Retailer Apprenticeship include:

  • A 30 minute On-Demand Test
  • A Practical Observation
  • A Professional Discussion

Successful apprentices can progress into team leading, supervisory or first line management roles within retail, higher level training or apprenticeships.

Retail Team Leader

A Retail Team Leader should deliver excellent customer service while providing critical support to managers. Retail Team Leaders can also guide and coordinate the work of the team when needed. In this apprenticeship, apprentices will learn key skills such as how to coach and support team members, how to coordinate the work of the team and how to hit financial targets by using resources effectively.

The End-Point Assessment components for the Retail Team Leader Apprenticeship include:

  • A 60 minute On-Demand Test
  • A Retail Business Project
  • A Professional Discussion

Successful apprentices can progress onto other retail management positions.

Retail Manager

A Retail Manager is responsible for delivering sales targets while providing a fantastic experience to customers. They must also lead their team to achieve their company’s vision and objectives. Apprentices will learn skills such as how to provide clear direction and leadership to their team, how to communicate marketing objectives to their members to drive results and how to ensure that members behave in line with the brand vision.

The End-Point Assessment components for the Retail Manager Apprenticeship include:

  • A Two Hour Written Exam
  • A Retail Business Project
  • A Professional Discussion

Successful apprentices can progress on to a retail store manager, senior retail manager or area manager position.

Chef De Partie

A Chef de Partie is responsible for running a specific section of a professional kitchen which they’re assigned. They usually manage a small team of workers and must make sure that all of their dishes go out on time while keeping their work station organised. Apprentices will learn valuable skills such as how to prepare, cook and finish a range of advanced culinary dishes, how to implement the correct food safety practices and how to handle and store ingredients to maintain quality.

The End-Point Assessment components for the Chef De Partie Apprenticeship include:

  • A Two Hour On-Demand Test
  • A Practical Observation
  • A Culinary Challenge Project and Observation
  • A 90 minute Professional Discussion

Successful apprentices can progress onto a senior culinary chef role.

Senior Chef Production Cooking

A Senior Production Chef is responsible for producing food in high volumes, both consistently and to a high quality. This role requires high energy, good organisational skills and excellent attention to detail. Apprentices will learn vital skills such as how to create standardized menu items, how to work to agreed practices to ensure a safe and hygienic kitchen and how to support team members to deliver high-quality products.

The End-Point Assessment Components for the Senior Chef Production Cooking apprenticeship include:

  • A Two Hour On-Demand Test
  • A Practical Observation
  • A Business Project
  • A 90 minute Professional Discussion

Apprentices who successfully pass can progress onto a higher level position within the kitchen, a higher level apprenticeship or further training.

Hospitality Manager 

A Hospitality Manager must be a highly motivated team leader who has excellent management skills and who thrives on providing outstanding customer service. Apprentices will learn how to manage finance to minimise costs within hospitality businesses, how to use operating models to help achieve the business vision and how to monitor customer satisfaction to ensure the product is delivered to the highest standards.

The End-Point Assessment Components for the Hospitality Manager Apprenticeship include:

  • A 90 minute On-Demand Test
  • A Business Project
  • A 90 minute Professional Discussion

After their apprenticeship, apprentices can work across a huge variety of organisations including bars, restaurants, cafes, hotels and more.


If you’d like to see the full range of standards we provide EPAs for, visit our page here. Otherwise, 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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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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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.

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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