Training trends for 2020

As we welcome the new decade, it’s often a time to start thinking about the upcoming trends within learning and development. Training has advanced significantly over the last 10 years, and we have seen a huge shift in digital and cloud-based technology being used every day in all aspects of learning.


What we expect to see more of over the next year…


Self-directed learning

With working hours rising in recent years, people generally have less time to fit in learning and development outside of work. According to the European statistics agency, Eurostat, full-time workers in the UK work an average of 42.5 hours a week; making it near impossible for workers to fit in traditional methods of training. 2020 will be just the start of us seeing more self-led learning; a learning technique that is becoming increasingly popular. This method of training allows people to fit learning into their busy schedule, offering bite sized training sessions that can be self-paced for the learner.

The Quals Direct ePortfolio is perfect for self-directed learning. With excellent features to help learners take control of their own progression, the cloud-based ePortfolio has open and visible communication enabling assessors to mentor and identify key points of need in order to plan the next stages of training. Assessors can also track the learners progress and performance with bespoke reporting and data exportation throughout the ePortfolio, allowing them to inform the learner where they need work, thus ensuring they take ownership of their learning.


Focus on AI coaching

AI (Artificial Intelligence) has been around for a while now and in the coming years, we will see education shift the focus on incorporating more AI in terms of how learning practices are carried out.

AI has been proven to vastly improve a learner’s performance which is a priority for any learning organisation, and we have already seen that Microsoft released an AI coach late last year that integrates with PowerPoint. This feature enables both assessors and learners to give better presentations as the AI coach listens to the presentation as a rehearsal, providing feedback on pacing, word-use and also guidance if you stutter.

Along with helping students academically, AI also helps learner’s wellness. For example, students can benefit from chatbots offering them 24-hour access for academic and non-academic support. AI also aids with multiculturalism as international students have improved services that let them communicate in their preferred language.


More integration and flow

Over the next few years, we expect to see more employers/assessors taking onboard the importance of integrating learning. No longer are we restricted to formal training periods or sessions, and we are beginning to recognise the need for continuous development and training.

Having learning tools that integrate, makes the training process much simpler for all those involved including the employer, assessor and learner. However, as digital technology develops, it has expanded so much that there is simply so many tools and platforms to choose from, we are often asked ‘which one do we use?’ and ‘why should we choose Quals Direct ePortfolio over the others?’ This challenge is something we are faced with a lot and with all of the different technology on the market today, it can be a difficult one for the user.


Why Quals Direct?

  • Quick and easy to set up
  • Designed to work on any web enabled device
  • No set up costs, recurring charges, hosting fees or annual licence charges
  • User processes are designed to work with different assessment and assurances methods
  • Assessment templates can be built to aid efficiency and standardisation
  • And many more…


In 2020, we expect there to be a trend to consolidate tools, that provide a complete, integrated, and simplified digital working experience – similar to the seamless experiences that we can provide to our users.


To find out more about the benefits of using the Quals Direct ePortfolio solution, please get in touch.

Degree Apprenticeships; How they differ to the traditional degree

Degree apprenticeships were first launched as part of the Higher Education scheme in 2015 and have become increasingly popular in the last couple of years. Known to be the ‘bespoke degree’ option compared to traditional degrees– degree apprenticeships enable Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) to build their own curriculum that states exactly what they intend the students to learn based upon the employer/job requirements.

Whilst traditional degrees have a good employment rate after completion and have more course options, with more and more people going to universities nowadays than ever before, it is becoming increasingly competitive to guarantee a job after graduating. Due to this, degree apprenticeships have become very popular with students, universities and employers for their almost guaranteed employment at the end of the course.

When it comes to delivering degrees and degree apprenticeships, they are very different.

With degree apprenticeships, the apprentice benefits from being in a real-life situation from the start. Giving them the opportunity to start earning straight away as they spend 80% of their time training in the workplace, shadowing colleagues and completing practical activities. This allows their employer to successfully mould them into the type of worker they need and unsurprisingly there is a higher percentage of employment after completion due to many staying with the same employer.

In comparison, traditional degrees involve students spending a proportion of their time at university, either in lectures or tutor sessions and the other part spent studying in their own time. This is not measured in the same way as degree apprenticeships, and traditional degree students have much more flexibility and control in how they learn. Mainly due to the fact that students fund the course themselves, commonly by sourcing a loan through the Student Loans Company. Whereas, degree apprenticeships are funded by either the employer paying the apprenticeship levy or through the employer getting co-investment funding from the government.

The assessment process for a traditional degree usually involves assessments throughout, whereas a degree apprenticeship is assessed only at the end, during an End Point Assessment (EPA). Audit trails are therefore crucial for both HE courses, however more thorough tracking is needed for degree apprenticeships as the learner is based off site so much. It is also important for the HEI, assessors and employers to measure progress of the learner throughout the degree apprenticeship as they have a much more structured set of standards to follow compared to traditional degrees, including a requirement of 20% off-the-job training.

Tracking a learners progress and recording off-the-job training is crucial to understand if the apprentice is ready for their EPA. You can find out more about being ready for End Point Assessments here.

To do this, an e-Portfolio is needed which is where our cloud-based apprenticeship software comes in. The Quals Direct e-Portfolio solution enables HEIs and employers to monitor progressions, track off-the-job training, set activities and have full visibility of a learners development; making it easy to offer support if needed.

For more information about how the Quals Direct e-Portfolio can be used to successfully deliver degree apprenticeships, get in touch.

Off-the-job Training – How to meet the required 20%

We are all aware about the 20% statutory requirement for off-the-job training during completion of an apprenticeship, but how does the training organisation know whether an activity is off-the-job, and how do they achieve the required 20%?

Off-the-job training must be new learning and relevant to the apprentice’s studies but not directly linked to the job role itself.

What can be included as off-the-job training?

There are 3 key points to consider when deciding if something is off-the-job training:

  1. Is the activity directly relevant?
  2. Is the activity teaching new skills & behaviours?
  3. Is the learning taking place in the apprentice’s normal working hours?

Ultimately, off-the-job training can be anything from attending lectures to role playing. It would all depend upon the apprenticeship involved. Other examples of off-the-job training can include but not be limited to; online learning, teaching theory, mentoring, industry visits, shadowing, learning support and spending time writing assessments, but always check the rules.

Why is off-the-job training so important?

Off-the-job training allows learners to gain additional knowledge and skills outside of their normal work duties. This upskilling method gives the apprentice the opportunity to diversify and become a more well-rounded employee by the end of their apprenticeship. Giving apprentices time to spend on research and development during their normal working hours, which also gives learners more job satisfaction and encouragement to learn.

How can ePortfolio help with achieving the required 20% off-the-job training?

With our cloud based ePortfolio, you will have a clear record of the 20% training achieved, by inputting an apprentices’ learning activity and simply highlighting it as off-the-job. The system records these hours then calculates the percentage of off-the job training completed, making it easier for employers, assessors, learners and the training organisation to view the progress made. This record allows everyone involved in the apprenticeship to evaluate if the learner is achieving their targeted off-the-job training and progressing at a good standard, allowing the relevant party to step in where necessary and assist the learner if needed.

This is crucial for not only the learner but the employer as the percentage of off-the-job training must be met. If employers fail to give their apprentices time for off-the-job training, they could face serious implications including loss of funding.

To find out more about how Quals Direct ePortfolio can help achieve the required 20% off-the-job training, give us a call on 0161 969 5231 or click here

Are you ready for End Point Assessments?

End Point Assessments (EPA) are the ‘gateway process’ that gives learners the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and behaviour for their chosen career. They consist of a series of assessments that an apprentice must complete to prove their ability to do the job that they have been training for. Being ready for this final assessment is essential to ensure all their hard work pays off and they can prove their capability within the industry.

What is involved with an End Point Assessment?

Dependant on the apprenticeship, the End Point Assessment will vary in terms of how it is carried out. For example, an EPA may involve an interview, observation of carrying out practical work, a set of questions or some other method of testing a learner’s capabilities before they enter full time work.

The End Point Assessment is carried out by an End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) independent of the training organisation and employer. This is to ensure that all apprentices who are completing an apprenticeship follow the same standard and are assessed consistently.

Stages of the End Point Assessment

Various entities are involved in the End Point Assessment including the employer, learner, training provider, assessors and an independent assessment organisation.

The stages to carry out EPA include:

  1. End Point Assessment Registration

The employer will select an organisation from the register to carry out the EPA.

  1. Learner must pass a certain checklist from the training provider to confirm they are ready

The training organisation will ensure that the apprentice is ready for an EPA and a decision is made whether they take the assessments.

  1. EPA is booked and an assessor is selected

Assessors and resources are matched against the apprenticeship and EPA requirements.

  1. Assessors carry out the EPA’s assigned

Evidence is recorded of the EPA’s carried out.

  1. EPA standardisation and quality assured

End Point Assessments must follow the same standard to ensure consistency.

  1. Results for the EPA

End Point Assessment advises employers of the results and if their learners’ apprenticeships have been completed.

  1. Apprenticeship is complete

The most important stage of the End Point Assessment process is ensuring the learner is fully prepared for the assessments before they go ahead with them.

If an employer books an apprentice for their EPA and they are not ready, they do have the risk of them having to retake the assessments. The employer would then be charged for the assessments again, which is why preparation and planning is so important to avoid incurring additional costs.


How can ePortfolios help with End Point Assessments?

We want to help our tutors or assessors and learners as much as we can, and this is where Quals Direct can assist with End Point Assessments preparation.

Using an ePortfolio throughout the course of an apprenticeship allows assessors or tutors to prepare and evaluate where the learner may need more assistance. By tracking their progress, where there is an accredited qualification and confirming their readiness for EPA, it gives them the opportunity to step in if necessary, by clearly demonstrating where the learner may need more preparation in order to be ready for an End Point Assessment.

Within our cloud based ePortfolio, there are fundamental features that employers and training providers use to determine when a learner is ready for an EPA. It is crucial to arrange a learners’ End Point Assessment only when they are ready as it gives the learners’ the best possible opportunity and chance at a successful outcome.

To find out more about ePortfolios and how they can help you, please call 0161 969 5231 to or click here 


Functional Skills Qualification Reformed

As we begin a new academic year, this September 2019 will be the first introduction to the new Functional Skills qualification. Following a decision made by the government in 2015, it is hoped that this reform programme will improve the relevance of Functional Skills qualifications in English and Mathematics.

Qualifications that meets employers needs

With the rise of awarding organisations recognising the need to improve the quality of teaching curriculums, the reformed FSQs’ have been designed to ensure that the qualifications better meet the employers needs in terms of the knowledge and skills that will be achieved.

Changes to subject content

Ofqual has confirmed an increased requirement for spelling, punctuation and grammar in English, to be assessed without access to dictionaries or computer-aided spellcheck. Likewise, content within the mathematics assessments will be split between skills to solve problems with and without a calculator.

An introduction to more relevant content for today’s society will be seen within the Mathematics Function Skills qualification, including questions related to percentages based on VAT. This will encourage learners to achieve skills that will make them more attractive to employers.

Not all has been reformed

Some features of the old-style FSQs’ that work well have been kept the same. A pass/fail system will continue to be used for assessment, along with on demand assessments.

ePortfolio enables tutors to keep track

Ofqual have recognised that they have seen a dip in performance in the past when it comes to changes in qualifications. It usually takes some time for assessors to get used to a new curriculum, often due to fewer resources available, whilst both accessors and learners are less familiar with the requirements of the new specifications.

With a cloud based ePortfolio, this could be avoided as it enables users to review progress by having easy access anytime from anywhere. This way, if there was a drop in a learners’ performance, it would be anticipated and allow accessors to step in early.

To find out more about how an ePortfolio can help you, get in touch to book a free no obligation demonstration of the Quals Direct system.