Scotland: Modern Apprenticeships at SCQF Level 6

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Modern Apprenticeships at SCQF Level 6 as approved by the Modern Apprenticeship Group (MAG) on behalf of the Scottish Government.



Purpose of framework/standard

Modern Apprenticeships (MA) offer those aged over 16 paid employment combined with the opportunity to train for jobs.

MAs are available to employees aged 16 or over. Employees need to demonstrate to their employer that they have the potential to complete the programme. All Modern Apprentices must have a demonstrable need to acquire significant new knowledge and skills to fulfil their job role. The framework selected for the employee must be the most appropriate learning programme generally available to that individual, providing such knowledge and skills.

Employers use MA frameworks as part of their workforce development to train new employees and up-skill existing members of staff. They can be (and often are) used regardless of whether financial support is available from the delivery body who currently provides a ‘contribution’ towards the cost of delivery. However, only approved MA frameworks will be eligible for funding support from Skills Development Scotland who should be contacted to establish the availability and level of support for each MA framework.

How apprenticeships prepare learners for progression to higher level study

Modern Apprenticeship Frameworks are driven by employer needs although either a Sector Skills Council or a Standards Setting Organisation develops the framework. At SCQF Level 6, MA frameworks must include as a mandatory component, a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) or an alternative competence-based qualification (CBQ). The framework also includes Work Place Core Skills (Communication, Numeracy, ICT, Working with Others and Problem Solving). SQA Accreditation must accredit the SVQ/CBQ and Work Place Cores. Any awarding body, which has been approved by SQA Accreditation, can make a submission for accreditation for the relevant qualifications.

The frameworks can also include other qualifications, either as a mandatory enhancement or as an optional enhancement. There is currently no requirement for SQA Accreditation to accredit any qualification included as an enhancement.

As the national accreditation body for Scotland, SQA Accreditation regulates the awarding bodies that it has approved and the qualifications submitted by them for accreditation.  In turn, the awarding bodies carry out quality assures each of its accredited qualifications and the providers that it has approved to deliver the accredited qualifications. SSCs/SSOs must approve providers as MA Centres. Where the providers wishes to draw down public funding, then it must also have successfully gained a contract from Skills Development Scotland.

Frameworks can comprise of both on-the-job and off-the-job training. There is currently no mandatory requirement for off-the-job training nor is there a mandatory minimum duration for an MA framework, although SSCs/SSOs are required to specify what the typical duration will be for the framework. Both these issues are to be included in a forthcoming consultation with regards what constitutes an apprenticeship framework.

On-the-job training is the time taken to develop practical skills in the workplace. This will include coaching and/or mentoring of the apprentice, as well providing the apprentice with an opportunity to practice and develop his/her practical skills.

Qualified assessors will visit the apprentices in their workplace and will observe the apprentice’s progress against the requirements of the qualification(s). When the employer and the assessor are of the view that the apprentice has consistently met the required standard, then an assessor will undertake an assessment of the apprentice against the qualification. This may result in the candidate achieving a unit from the qualification or provide evidence that one or more performance criteria from a unit are met.

Each provider will have an internal verifier who will sample a range of evidence from across all of its assessors to ensure that there is consistency in assessment.

Awarding bodies conduct external verification to providers and some or all of this activity will consider the assessment and internal verification records. Where an external verification visits results in a positive outcome then the provider will be permitted to continue to request certification for successful qualification outcomes.

SQA Accreditation, as part of its regulatory activity, conducts visits to a sample of each approved awarding bodies’ providers on an annual basis to ensure that the awarding bodies’ systems remain effective. In addition, SQA Accreditation audits all awarding bodies within a three-year cycle based on the risk profile of each approved awarding body. SQA Accreditation produces a report for both of these activities, with the final report published on its website. Where issues are found as a result of visits to providers or from the audit, then an action plan is agreed between SQA Accreditation and the awarding body. This action plan is also published on its website.

The quality assurance activities carried out by providers, awarding bodies and SQA Accreditation ensure that all apprentices meet the necessary standards of the qualifications.  As a result, all apprentices that have completed an MA at SCQF Level 6 will be occupationally competent in their chosen occupational role, and will also have the necessary underpinning knowledge and understanding that could support a related programme of Higher Education in that sector.

Combined competence and knowledge-based qualification

As mentioned earlier, each MA framework must have, as a mandatory component, either an SVQ or an alternative competence based qualification. Both qualifications must be based on the relevant National Occupational Standard. Although these qualifications assess the competence of the apprentices, there is also a requirement for assessors to assess the underpinning knowledge i.e. to ensure that the apprentices not only can perform to a competence standard in the workplace but they also know how and why to perform to those standards.

Some sectors have elected to include knowledge-based qualifications as a mandatory component in the framework. For example, the Supply Chain Management framework at SCQF Level 6 includes a range of knowledge based qualifications e.g. CILT Level 2 Certificate in Logistics and Transport.

Example of Level 3 units

Three examples of units from 3 different frameworks are listed below:

Additional requirements of apprenticeship

As each framework is designed to meet the needs of a sector, some frameworks will have additional requirements. As described, earlier, it is possible for additional qualifications to be added as either a mandatory enhancement or an optional enhancement.

Estimated duration of apprenticeship

There is no current, mandatory minimum duration for an apprenticeship although SSCs/SSOs are required to set out the expected minimum duration for each framework. This varies from one year through to four years.

Designed to support progression

The main aim of a Modern Apprenticeship is to equip an apprentice with the skills, knowledge and competence to be a successful and valued employee. In so doing, the apprenticeship will assist the apprentice to consider where their career could potentially take them in terms of career progression. This could include undertaking Further or Higher Education qualifications.

Additional information for HE

The SCQF Level of an MA framework is determined by the level of the main mandatory qualification ie either the SVQ or an alternative competence based qualification. Due to the design rules for these qualifications, it may be the case that not every unit in the SVQ (or alternative competence based qualification) sits at SCQF Level 6. However, the majority of SCQF credit in the qualification will be at SCQF Level 6.

Contact details

George Brown, Head of Accreditation

Scottish Qualifications Authority, The Optima Building, 58 Robertson Street, Glasgow, G2 8DQ

0141 500 5255 [email protected]