In 2012 the Government undertook a complete ‘root and branch’ review of apprenticeships and vocational training. The review sought feedback from employers and business organisations with the resulting proposal for a new apprenticeship structure being launched in December 2015, entitled ‘English Apprenticeships: Our 2020 Vision’.

This laid out the new format for apprenticeships, the significant change in the way they were funded and a Government target of reaching three million apprentice starts in 2020. The document opened with the statement: “Our goal is for young people to see apprenticeships as a high quality and prestigious path to successful careers, and for these opportunities to be available across all sectors of the economy, in all parts of the country and at all levels. This will support our aim for young people to get the best start in life, through the opportunity that high quality education and training provides.”

It is well documented that apprenticeship funding comes from either larger employers paying and claiming back their apprenticeship levy or smaller employers receiving support directly from Government. These funding streams can provide up to 95% to 100% funding depending on the apprenticeship standard and the training delivery and assessment costs.

One of the significant changes was the introduction of the 20% ‘off-the-job’ training requirement. This along with the minimum requirement of 12 months training for an apprenticeship programme meant that the training the candidate received must meet agreed Government criteria.

To develop the new apprenticeship standards the Government introduced ‘Trailblazer Groups’, small groups of industry representatives and employers who came together under the guidance of the Institute for Apprenticeships to design and build the new standards.

Once the standard was approved the work began to source training providers and assessment organisations to deliver the programme. Both are required to be approved and registered by Government to access funding, deliver and assess apprenticeship programmes. Engagement with training providers is an on-going project to ensure employers have choice and we achieve geographical coverage across England.

Under the former NVQ system the assessment was carried out by the training provider and this has changed with the Government introducing the need for independent candidate assessment by an End Point Assessment Organisation which would make the final decision that the candidate has attained the required level of knowledge and skill to be awarded the apprenticeship certificate, thereby adding validity to the assessment process.

Once the new Apprenticeship Standard and Assessment Plan received Government approval it was placed on the Institute for Apprenticeship web site for public access. Both the Standard and the Assessment Plan (ref ST0604) can be accessed on the Institute for Apprenticeships web site https://www.instituteforapprenticeships. org/apprenticeship-standards/textile-careoperative/ along with contact details for training providers, and can also be obtained via the Textile Services Association.

The standard follows a ‘Core’ and ‘Option’ route through the required sections of Knowledge, Skills and Behaviour. This then breaks into the two pathways of Commercial Laundry and Dry/ Wet Cleaning.

Each Pathway has further optional knowledge and skills sections to ensure the candidate has an awareness of the broader fields within their sector, for example a candidate working in a purely industrial workwear facility would also gain an awareness of the requirements for working in a food garment or linen processing facility. This not only enables the candidate to widen his or her knowledge but meets the Institute for Apprenticeships requirement for standards to be transferable across the sector as a whole.

As part of the initial skills assessment the candidate will also be tested for their level of Maths and English and receive support to take the Level 2 Maths and English test prior to their final assessment.

After the 12-month minimum training period the candidate will be assessed to ensure they have reached ‘Gateway Status’ the point at which they are deemed, by the training provider and the employer, that they are ready for final assessment.

End Point assessors will carry out the three-stage assessment at the candidate’s place of work. After achieving the required pass rate for a multiple choice knowledge test the candidate will then go on to the two-part practical assessment, the first part being a ‘walkaround’ of the candidate’s place of work when the candidate will be required to describe and explain what is happening in the various stages of the and establish their knowledge and understanding of all the stages involved in their particular pathway. In the final stage the assessor will carry out an observational assessment of the candidate’s skills including sorting, washing, drying, finishing and sorting/packaging over approximately three hours.

Once the assessor is satisfied that the candidate has met the standard required, competence will be confirmed. There is scope for both a Pass and a Pass with Distinction to be achieved, and if unsuccessful retakes and resits are available.

The first cohort of candidates which began training in February 2019 will be due for End Point Assessment in March this year. As a sector we, along with our End Point Assessment Organisation the Skills & Education Group, are constantly on the lookout for potential assessors and sector specialist to help with the development of assessment tools and the end point assessment of candidates. There are certain criteria which an assessor must meet in order to comply with the approved assessment plan. The role can suit someone who works part time, is semi-retired or their employer is willing to second them to the role. So, do get in touch If you fit the bill or know of someone who might. More information can be obtained by going directly to the Skills & Education Group, on email at complianceandregulation@ or call 0115 854 1324.

As an employer that believes training staff is key to ensuring engaged and efficacious employees, Johnsons Hotel Linen was the first employer in the UK to sign up candidates to the newly developed Textile Care Operative Apprenticeship scheme and head of HR hotel linen division Rebecca Morgan says: “In the past, training providers have resorted to making existing qualifications ‘fit’ with what we do, but our industry isn’t manufacturing or production, so traditional qualifications just weren’t a good match. The qualification, developed specifically for our industry gives our apprentices skills and knowledge across the board, creating a strong foundation for them to progress in our rapidly expanding industry and we benefit from their better understanding of the processes as a whole.”

When the Trailblazer Group initially submitted its Expression of Interest in developing a Textile Care Operative Standard, we were required to make a commitment to the number of potential candidates that would take up the training programme. In our first year of delivery we are progressing well towards that number, but we must build and maintain momentum which is where we ask you, employers and companies to ensure a continued stream of candidates enabling us to take the apprenticeship programme further and ensure that in years to come employers and employees will continue to grow and benefit.

LEE MORRIS managing director NTG Training (apprenticeship training provider)

“Apprenticeship programmes are crucial to the industry. As the textile industry ages, it is vital that the knowledge and skills are passed down to the younger generation which will ensure that the knowledge stays within the sector.

“By employers having multi-skilled employees it creates a platform for these employees to share the knowledge and skills learnt with other employees coming into the sector. This also allows organisations to deal better with sickness and holiday cover and creates a stable platform for learning.

“There are huge benefits for companies that accept apprenticeships into their organisation. By recruiting young people into the business, you are creating a workforce for the future.”

DAVID STEVENS CEO Textile Services Association

“The apprenticeship programme provides the industry with an opportunity to create a wealth of well trained and capable talent for the future. With the prospect of recruitment becoming even more diffi cult because of the change in our relationship with Europe it is vital that employers maximise the benefi ts the apprenticeship standard brings. This would be in both an improved recruitment offering and the identifi cation and development of in-house talent, easing the diffi culties that will arise with an everdiminishing workforce pool.”

JENNY HOLLOWAY CEO Fashion-Enter (apprenticeship training provider)

“Following an excellent Ofsted Monitoring Review, we decided to expand our offer of highquality skills training and the only standard that we had real confi dence and faith in was the Textile Care Operative.

“The areas of work wear, protective clothing, hospitality, hotels and care homes are major opportunities in both commercial and in-house laundry. This together with the more retail-focused dry- and wetcleaning sector you have two markets where high standards of knowledge and skills are vital to deliver the quality expected by their customers.

“We are delighted to be working with this sector and have already formed some excellent working partnerships and are looking forward to playing our part “