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Looking forward to the year ahead

As we start afresh and look forward to the year ahead, it’s clear that there are lots of exciting and challenging times awaiting us in the world of further education and training. With change often comes trepidation, but we’re here to help guide our customers through reform and new ways of working to create the best possible experiences for learners, no matter which path they choose.

Our end-point assessment (EPA) service continues to grow from strength to strength and we’re starting to see employers, training providers and most importantly, apprentices, really getting to grips with how to succeed within the recently reformed approach to delivering and assessing apprenticeships. NCFE is approved by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to deliver EPA across 18 apprenticeship standards. This year, over 9,000 apprentices are expected to complete their EPA with NCFE, where we specialise in Health, Care, Education and Childcare, as well as offering areas such as Business Administration and Customer Service and Management.

We’re continuing our work in developing the new Education and Childcare T Level under our CACHE brand for which we were awarded the contract by the Department for Education (DfE) and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) in February 2019. This qualification will form part of the first wave of T Levels alongside other pathways in the Construction and Digital Skills sectors. T Levels signify a big change in technical education as they will become one of the main choices for students post-16, alongside A Levels and Apprenticeships. Equivalent to 3 A Levels, the 2-year courses have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses to ensure the content prepares learners for the world of work and meets industry needs. They will offer learners a mixture of classroom learning and industry placement with the first 3 routes being delivered from September 2020.

The Functional Skills Reform has now come into effect following a decision made by the government in 2015 to reform Functional Skills qualifications in English and maths. The reform process has been undertaken to ensure that the qualifications better meet employer needs in terms of the knowledge and skills that learners achieve.

We’re still fully committed to creating a level playing field for English and maths and our #FullyFunctional campaign is gaining continuing support. We’re looking to the government to give English and maths alternative qualifications parity of esteem with GCSEs and change perceptions of technical alternatives across the sector and with employers.

A big issue facing the future jobs market is addressing the gap in tech and digital skills. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (or 4IR) is here to stay and is beginning to show how it will impact on our personal, learning and working lives.

We’re continuing to invest in new technology to aid and advance learning and are proud to launch the new Peer Tutor platform, a smartphone app which allows students to connect with peer tutors. We have also launched PregnancyVue, a VR app which takes the user inside the womb over the course of pregnancy, showing them the baby from conception through to birth. This technology can be used by many learners, including those taking childcare and healthcare, and even parents to be.

We’re thrilled to welcome Skills Forward to the NCFE family, one of the UK’s leading eLearning assessment solutions for Functional Skills and GCSEs. Their digital learning and development platform software is used by colleges, training providers and employers who want accurate visibility of learner progress across a variety of work-based learning programmes and to digitally capture evidence of a learner’s skills, knowledge and occupational competency.

It’s no secret that we’re facing change and challenge in the sector and country as a whole at the moment but we want to drive forward as an organisation and remain extremely committed to our core mission to promote and advance learning. We wish you a great year and look forward to hearing all of the fantastic stories of learner progression and achievement over the coming months.

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