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The development of sector apprenticeships

22 June 2020  
Posted by: Jo Cornish
The development of sector apprenticeships

CILIP’s Head of Sector Development Jo Cornish explains how ­CILIP is working with the library and knowledge workforce to ensure there are more ways into the job, while maintaining standards. For CILIP that means the creation of a new apprenticeship scheme that will deliver an alternative route into the career alongside a new definition of professionalism.

The recent CILIP Library, Information and Knowledge Management (LIKM) Professionalism Review provided a great opportunity to examine with the community how we develop skills in the workforce. The single clearest message from across the LIKM workforce was a strong desire for the sector to diversify quality routes into the profession.

This broadening of routes, but with no compromise on quality, was seen as key to opening up the profession to a wider pool of talent. From all quarters there was understanding that is not just acquiring knowledge and qualifications that makes someone a professional, how those skills are applied in practice and reflected upon is just as important.

Apprenticeships offer a perfect opportunity to achieve this. They combine formally acquired knowledge and on-the-job learning. They are developed to strict employer-led standards, have robust assessment, provide a formal qualification and of course allow people to earn and learn.

This recognised need in the LIKM profession and the introduction of the Government Apprenticeship Levy in April 2017 created the perfect storm to drive the development of apprenticeship Standards in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland retain their own arrangements.

Perfect conditions

The Apprenticeship Levy requires employers with a payroll of over £3m to pay into a fund for apprenticeships. The only way to draw down on that money is to fund an apprenticeship. At the same time, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) created new development processes. All new apprenticeships were developed as Standards, with existing apprenticeship Frameworks being phased out. IFATE carefully controls the Standards permitted for development and the rules to govern the process.

Every Standard must be a unique offering and the creation must be employer-led. This avoids a proliferation of overlapping Standards, or Standards that are not fit for the­employers’ needs. Each Standard includes a distinct set of skills, knowledge and behaviours for a specific profession or workforce sector. IFATE also encourages the employer-led development groups, known as Trailblazers, to work with the relevant professional associations to make sure Standards dovetail with ongoing professional development opportunities. Standards can be developed from Level 2 (roughly GCSE equivalent) up to a Level 7 (Masters equivalent).

A Standard to unite them

In 2017, CILIP facilitated an employer Trailblazer group to create a Standard for both the LIKM profession and Archives and Records Management profession. This wider professional group was referred to as LARKIM (Libraries, Archives, Records, Knowledge and Information Management). The Trailblazer group had representatives from across LARKIM and from organisations of all different sizes. It also had cross sector representation including Health, Higher Education, Legal, Government and Further Education library and information service. The Archive and Records Association (ARA) and CILIP were both involved in supporting the Trailblazer work. It is very important the Standards are developed in consultation with all key stakeholders and on behalf of the employers in that profession. After wide consultation with LARKIM employers and on the advice of IFATE, the Trailblazer group set to work creating a Level 3 apprenticeship Standard suitable for the whole LARKIM profession. Although IFATE naming conventions meant the Standard needed a shorter title. After careful consideration, all Trailblazers agreed that the title Library Information and Archives Services Assistant (LIAS) Level 3 apprenticeship fit the bill.

The Trailblazers chose to use the CILIP Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB) as the foundation for the development of the Standard and its associated assessment plan. The IFATE process is very involved and assessed at three “gateways” to make sure it is robust. In December 2018, IFATE approved the LIAS Level 3 Standard for use. This was a huge moment of celebration for the Trailblazer group, ARA and CILIP. The LARKIM profession now has an entry-level apprenticeship route to qualification.

Getting an apprentice

The levy money can be used to fund apprenticeships for existing employees (provided they are genuinely learning new skills) or for new apprenticeship posts. There are limits on what the levy can ­cover though, for example, the apprentice’s wages cannot be funded by the levy.

Apprenticeships are available to people of any age provided they are over 16 and spend 50 per cent of their working hours in England. Apprentices are paid a salary for the duration of their apprenticeship. They must spend 20 per cent of their time in off-the-job training.

The employer is the owner of the process. They create the apprenticeship opportunity and fund the wages. They secure levy money to fund the apprenticeship. The employer needs to:

  • Provide an apprenticeship role where 80 per cent of the time is spent in workplace practice
  • Enable 20 per cent of the apprentice’s time in off the job training
  • Procure an approved training provider to deliver off the job training
  • Procure an approved end point assessment organisation (EPAO) to assess the apprentice.

Apprenticeships last for a minimum for 12 months and the Level 3 LIAS Standard is intended to be completed in 18 months.

The IFATE website and website provide excellent guidance on using the Standard and how to find approved training providers and EPAO. CILIP has created a subsidiary called CILIP Pathways that is in the process of registering as the EPAO for this Standard.

New opportunities

There is huge interest and demand for apprenticeships and so there are several standards currently in development, and which will be relevant for our profession. As we looked at Level 3, it was clear that skills from across the LARKIM profession could be included in one Standard. There is enough crossover at this level to keep the standard relevant, but as higher levels are reached there is a need to focus on more sector-specific skills and so three additional standards are being created.

Emma Markiewicz, Head of Archives Sector Development at the National Archive, is the Trailblazer Chair for the Level 7 Archives and Record ­Manager Apprenticeship Standard. She sees ­apprenticeships as essential for a thriving sector, and points out that those taking part can be confident they will come out of the scheme with the skills employers are looking for. She said: “This apprenticeship will provide a positive additional route for anyone looking to develop a career in archives and records management and will attract new talent to help build a thriving and resilient archive ­sector. The trailblazer development process ensures that we are creating a new style of apprenticeship, based on sector needs and employer requirements”.

In the Information Management sector, Stuart McLean, UK Manager of Automation and Information Manager at Fluor, is the Trailblazer Chair for the Level 4 Information Manager Apprenticeship Standard. He points to the evolution of Information Management as a distinct discipline over the years, and says that providing career development pathways into and through IM is invaluable.

He says: “As a practising Information Manager for over 20 years in the energy, chemicals and infrastructure industries, there has been a common theme of explaining what Information Management is. In recent years, I have seen my profession beginning to be recognised as a distinct discipline in its own right. It is evolving at a rapid pace as technology platforms evolve as well as the reliance on data and information in driving industry and business performance. The desire to create a formal entry route, to have broader recognition of this discipline, and to formalise the expectations around training and development to me are key in setting the path forward. As well as opening up professional recognition for individuals.”

The third strand is the Level 7 Health and Care Intelligence Specialist apprenticeship, and the Trailblazer Chair for this is John Battersby, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at Public Health England.

The creation of a new stream of entry and continued development as people progress through their careers is ­addressing a series of historical issues about consistency, according to John. He says the new standards will drive well-structured training and provide eligibility for ongoing professional recognition and registration, adding: “For many years there has been a concern from across the analytical and health information community that they have not had access to consistent and structured training in health intelligence” he says. “Staff have had to learn on the job.

“The opportunity to develop new ­apprenticeship standards has opened the door to addressing this issue. This standard will, for the first time, offer health and social care employers an opportunity for new and existing staff to undertake structured training as analysts and information managers. Those completing the standard will be eligible for professional registration as analysts; something that has not been available until now.”

These three new Standards are at various stages of development and will soon be ready for use:

Level 4 Information Manager – ­approved for use, awaiting a registered EPAO

Level 7 Health and Care Intelligence Specialist – awaiting final approvals

Level 7 Archives and Record Management – in development

Next steps for CILIP

There is strong support in the LIKM profession to develop a higher-level ­apprenticeship at Level 6 or Level 7. CILIP is facilitating a group of ­interested stakeholders that we hope will become a Trailblazer.

Head of Sector Development, Jo Cornish, also intends to develop paths to Chartered Professional Registration for LIAS apprentices.

Apprenticeships provide applied learning opportunities. The commitment between the apprentice and employer creates a real sense of mutual purpose and benefit, which fuels commitment to the role, organisation and the profession. It can aid retention and inspire future learning. By removing barriers and allowing people to earn whilst they learn, apprenticeships offer the opportunity for the LIKM profession to attract and retain the diverse talent we need to deliver excellent services now and for the future.

The most important voice:

In the absence of a library-specific Standard, Lancashire Libraries have been using the Customer Service Standard for cohorts of apprentices for some time. The creation of the new LIAS Level 3 opens a new opportunity for the service, and its apprentices.

Nana Montord, one of Lancashire’s current crop of apprentices explains how her experience has helped her develop.

She said: “I had not really thought about the ubiquitous nature of technology and how incapacitating it is to not be familiar with it. A woman came in and told me of her fear of the internet, her isolation and difficulty with mobility issues making it impossible to eat a healthy diet, as she was not able to get to the larger grocery store.

“I aided her to become familiar with technology. It was so fulfilling to see how her life transformed! By the end, she was ordering her grocery shopping to be delivered, communicating with family continents away and positively excited about the future! We often take for granted the privileges our skills provide and it is only through helping others gain the skills that we can truly appreciate what we are lucky enough to know and access. This apprenticeship has allowed me to work in a great team and make a real life difference to the community. This is an amazing opportunity and I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time here brings!”

Published: 22 June 2020

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