The Engineering Trust

Our move to a remote way of learning and assessment

There isn’t a business or organisation in this land (or the world) not affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. For some it will mean the end of the road, others a temporary pause and furlough of staff whilst for others it means working hard to keep their workforce fit and healthy to meet demand. What an odd and mixed up period we find ourselves in.

Over the last two years we have spent time and resource developing online tools to complement the face-to-face work we do with our apprentices. Over the past few weeks we have very quickly found ourselves delivering our training 100% remotely. Not something we had planned on and something that produces challenges when delivering apprenticeships that relate to physical, hands-on skills. The move to restrict movement was quick and let’s be honest, very few people at the end of February thought we would be in this situation, yet here we are!

As a learner centric organisation, we asked ourselves one question - how do we continue delivering apprenticeship programmes using remote solutions that will support apprentices? We then set ourselves one target - to ensure apprentices continue to work to their original planned completion dates. The only time our target may be impossible to reach is if an apprentice has their employment ended and with it their apprenticeship. Other than that, as long as they are still employed including if they are furloughed, then we can continue to work to meet our target.

So, we looked at what can and cannot be deliver then set about being proactive to ensure apprentices are not disadvantaged. The work we have done over the past two years has put us in a strong position to support our apprentices without face-to-face activity however we must stress that we are not looking at remote solutions as an alternative to the way we have previously worked, these are short term solutions and a different way of working to support our apprentices through these difficult times.

Transitioning to a fully remote delivery 
As I mentioned before, we pride ourselves on being learner centric, so they really are our top priority. Whilst a lot of our transition focuses on the operational elements and platforms that we are using, our Training Officers are also a support mechanism for our apprentices who may have worries and concerns surrounding their apprenticeship or wider future. One of the things our Training Officers are excellent at is building strong relationships with each apprentice and it is one of the things that make us such a quality provider (own trumpet blown… tick). 

Contact time 
All our apprentices are continuing to have dialogue with their Training Officer. We are using a mix of telephone calls, webinars and video calls to ensure we can communicate with the apprentice in whichever way they find works for them. The contact is designed to support the apprentices and continue them on their journey, progressing them against their aims. 

We continue to set the apprentices targets/actions and log them within our e-portfolio system. The system contains their company training plan and allows for a joined-up approach with the employers who also having access and can monitor progression. 

Working with our college partners
Apprentices who were attending college at the time when the restrictions were put in place have been given work to complete and access to remote webinar sessions where possible. For those who were attending college to undertake practical training, we’ve agreed with the colleges to pause their college element and put in place action plans to ensure they are re-started as early as possible once colleges re-open. It is just the college element that is paused, not their apprenticeship!

Keeping on target
We are keeping apprentices that are due to complete this year on target to do so. Their Training Officers are working hard to ensure that these learners are finalising their evidence and working towards their target date for achievement. 

We continue to evolve our delivery and are looking into new ways of working with our apprentices. It’s a really interesting process to learn how the apprentices interact with us in this situation and we are constantly on the lookout of ways in which to engage with them more and in a way that suits them.
Ultimately the restriction on movement and the response to the Covid-19 pandemic will be a short-term thing in the bigger scheme of things however there is no denying that its effects are huge. Our target is to ensure that no apprentices are disadvantaged and can continue through to the completion of their apprenticeship without issue. 

Written by Melvyn, Operations Manager