An interview with an Assessor (no-fangs present!)

An interview with a Vampire an Assessor tells me gentle persuasion is needed when apprentices are struggling!

I have been blogging recently about the new 12-month stay rule for apprentices and how it affects those hardworking apprentices who really want to crack-on with their qualifications and gain promotion at work.

There is, of course, another side to the coin, which was highlighted recently when one of my assessors was celebrating the completion of an apprentice who has really struggled to achieve his level 3.  The apprentice in question has worked very hard but has faced many pitfalls and challenges in his life and this has resulted in taking over 30 months to complete his full apprenticeship.  The determination to succeed from both the apprentice and his assessor is what has driven this programme through to its conclusion.

So how do the assessors keep the learners going when they want to give up?  Kerry says, “At level 2, the learners really want to keep their jobs and this is usually tied in with the apprenticeship.  When the learners are struggling I visit them frequently and set small achievable targets so they can see their achievement percentage bar going up on each visit.   I say ‘we need to do….’ rather than ‘you’ so they really feel I am there to support them”.   She adds “I can also vary the evidence by using video and voice recordings rather than written work”.  Gwyneth agrees, and adds “I can help them to think of evidence or change their units to make life easier for them and I point out the positives of what they can gain once they have completed their apprenticeship.”

How do they motivate themselves?    Kerry laughs “your newsletter with all the coloured success rate targets, especially when they turn red!”  Gwyneth joins in with the laughter “yes, think of the pay cheque!”  Then they both turn serious and say “we’re always thinking of ways to help our candidates to achieve their goals.  When they achieve, we achieve, so it’s a win-win situation”.

How do you feel when you get somewhere with them and they stumble again, either at work or in their personal life?   Kerry, Rose and Gwyneth all concur “frustrated!!”  However they all agree that it’s time to change tactics again, pick them up, dust them off and set them on the road again.

How do you feel when you can finally sign them off as completed?  Kerry says “Fantastic, dance, jog, skip about, Whoop whoop!”  This is usually when I can expect to see some cartwheels down the corridor!!  Gwyneth says “Knowing that I have had an impact on someone’s life and helped them to achieve their goals is a great feeling”.  Rose agrees, “I feel elated with a sense of relief that my persistence has paid off”.  She adds, “In a way, though, I lose an acquaintance that I really like and have really got to know well!”

So, in talking to my team of assessors this week, I get a true sense of this being more than just a job.   They all have one thing in common, the feeling of satisfaction when a learner achieves their goals and the feeling they have really helped to set their learners firmly on their career path.

One last thing to consider, though.  The apprenticeship is an all-in price so learners that exceed their target dates by a considerable time tend to be a costly journey for us but, as we are not-for-profit, our main concern is to get the learners through to their finish-line.   It is, of course, ‘swings and roundabouts’, as some learners take a while to get their programmes finished, others have been completing in a timely manner.  We are, after all, dealing with human beings, not widgets (and certainly not vampires!)


Respectfully submitted,

Wendy Vickers, CEO

17th August 2012

Amanda Bangs Her ‘Drum’!!

       Get Real, Get Inspired and Think again about Apprenticeships!!



Apprenticeships are sometimes viewed by parents and schools as the ‘poor man’s’ qualification; something to be done if you’re not very bright or unlikely to do well, and a way for employers to bring on board ‘cheap labour’.   Think ‘EastEnders’ when they need an extra pair of hands in the chip shop and the dialogue is something like ‘let’s get one of those apprentices in!’   No training in sight, no sustained employment prospects, just lots of greasy paper and Kat and Alfie to serve – yeah right!  Not very inspiring for young people or their parents, is it??!!

Young people are sometimes portrayed as unreliable, work shy and totally unprepared for work.   Think Harry Enfield’s exaggerated characters, Kevin and Perry, great to laugh at but definitely not real people!    Not very inspiring for employers, is it??

Employers often view apprenticeships and apprentices as time wasting, arduous and far more trouble than they’re worth.  Think Mr Brittas in the ‘Brittas Empire’ running around trying to boss everyone about, not training any staff properly and not achieving much in the course of a day’s work.   Not very inspiring for us training providers, is it?

Given this negative and ironic point of view, why, therefore, was I sitting in Jardine Motors, one of the most prestigious car dealerships in the UK, interviewing for business apprentices?

The calibre of the applicants was outstanding!! The majority were school and college leavers, but they showed there are young people out there that WANT to do apprenticeships!  They DON’T want to go to college and Uni, they WANT to be out there working and undertaking an apprenticeship.  They want to be one step ahead of their counterparts going into further education and have some work experience on their CV, coupled with the apprenticeship framework qualifications.  When the college leavers come out next year, they will be qualified and already experienced at doing the job – very inspiring to other young people and very inspiring for this employer!

Of course, there were some that didn’t turn up or let us know they weren’t coming – after all Harry Enfield must have got his ideas for Kevin and Perry from somewhere – and not everyone was suited to the job.

Overall though the day’s experience really proved that there are some amazing young people out there!  Real, ambitious, young people who want to work, want to get on and want to do well!!

There are also some fantastic employers out there who want to inspire their workforce and invest in their young people.

Although hard work, I thorough enjoyed the day and the experience reinforced what I love about my job and the reason I get out of bed to come to work!


I would like to bang a whacking great drum out there for all young people that can be bothered to do something, especially apprentices and especially our apprentices here at ITEC!! Well done guys!!  I hope this will inspire many more young people to think hard about their future and do something positive with it!!

Amanda Rawlings

Youth Programmes Manager

(Drum-banger and Guest blogger!!)