The new RACHP Engineering Technician Trailblazer Apprenticeship is set to shake up the industry with its combination of forward-thinking ‘on the job’ assessment and established qualifications, with the aim of creating the next generation of engineer.
After two years of development and consultation, the new apprenticeship aims to equip apprentices not just with the fundamentals, but to also help prepare both them and the wider industry for forthcoming technological advances.
Launched at the Royal Academy of Engineering, the RACHP Engineering Technician Apprenticeship scheme was approved in 2015 as one of the Trailblazer Apprenticeships and is now rated “ready for delivery”, complete with approval for funding of training by Government.
Furthermore, assessment body City & Guilds is in the process of registering to deliver the new Apprenticeship programme and has been working closely with the Trailblazer Employers Group and the Institute of Refrigeration to prepare new qualifications and guidance material for trainers and employers to help deliver the new apprenticeships.
Speaking at the launch, John Ellis, chairman of the Employers’ Group, stated that the industry cannot accept a “halfway house” when it comes to training. He said: “Nearly competent is not good enough. Certified technicians must be competent to work on any refrigeration, air conditioning or heat pump system utilising the vapour compression cycle. Furthermore, they should have reached a national standard, in this instance Engineering Council Engineering Technician level.”
Underpinning the scheme are three core qualities – knowledge, skills and behaviours – which all include various subcategories with specific aims. For example, ‘Knowledge’ includes legislation regulations and standards, data analysis and sustainability, while ‘Behaviours’ includes safety approach and strong work ethic, among others.
The three-year programme (see box) is made up of 80 per cent ‘on the job’ assessment via a ‘Workplace Evidence Workbook’ which will be monitored by employers. They will be tasked with ensuring the assessment process produces the required results and will therefore have to identify factors such as what will be assessed, who will assess it and how to operationalise the assessment plan.
The 20 per cent ‘off the job’ assessment requirement is a combination of Level 2 and Level QCF plus Category 1 F-Gas.
This will culminate in the End Point Assessment, which incorporates three separate tasks. Firstly, the submission of a completed Workbook to an independent panel, who will assess it for the aforementioned core qualities.
Secondly, a Synoptic End Point on-line knowledge exam set and marked by an Approved Assessment Organisation, with input from the IOR.
And finally, there will be a practical project (carried out over two to three days) assessed by an Approved Centre and set and externally verified by the assessment organisation.
The new qualification handbook and logbook will be available in June on the City & Guilds website and registration will be open from 1 September. End point practical and knowledge tests will be available in 2017 – however, these are not officially required as the apprenticeship is a three-year programme.
The Trailblazers Employers’ Group has been backed by key players such as Daikin, Mitsubishi Electric, Integral, Star Refrigeration, Sainsbury’s, GEA, as well as professional bodies IOR, FETA, ACRIB, BESA and CIBSE. Opportunities for additional companies, trainers and awards bodies to contribute via consultation and meetings has also been welcomed.
Government funding for the scheme has also been confirmed, with the maximum core contribution of £2 for every £1 from the employer.
For example, if the employer agrees a priced cap at £9,000, the government contributes £6,000 and the employer £3,000. Furthermore, additional payments will also be made if the company recruits a 16-18 year old (£1,800), is a small business of more than 50 (£900) and is rewarded on successful completion (£900), which could theoretically bring incentive payments to £3,600, more than offsetting the previous £3,000 contribution.
Commenting on the new apprenticeship ACRIB chairman David Bostock said: “This industry is becoming more and more important and our role will increasingly be called upon to work not just within our established disciplines but in more advanced roles as technologies continue to develop and cross over into other areas. This should be a shared vision.”
Also attending the launch was IOR president Graeme Maidment, who highlighted that the RAC industry consumes 19 per cent of all UK electricity, and that “policy is driving how we are approaching emissions, so we need to be smarter with how we progress and evolve.”
He added, “With this apprenticeship, while the fundamentals stay the same, it gives us the opportunity to attract the right people to ensure the future. We are an old industry, and we now have the chance to promote it to the wider world.”
- Three-year programme - 80% on the job, 20% off the job
- Culminates in End Point Assessment
- Core elements – Skills/Knowledge/Behaviours
- ‘Off the job’ element includes Level 2 and Level 3 Learning and Assessment
- ‘On the job’ Workplace Evidence Workbook documented by apprentice, authenticated by employer
- Completion of ‘On Programme’ – Level 2 +Level 3 + Category 1 F-Gas + Workbook leads to End Point Assessment
n End Point Assessment incorporates three separate tasks