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!
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 Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
See you around The Hive!