This Week's News 11.05.18

What is GDPR? Technology explained

A new EU law that changes how companies use personal information kicks in on 25 May. The BBC's Chris Foxx explains what GDPR is and how it will affect you. Watch this 2-minute video.

End point assessment

The introduction of End Point Assessment (EPA) into new Apprenticeship standards brings a fresh challenge for apprentices, employers and, in particular, assessors. As we know, Hair Professional apprentices will go from having their progress evidenced and assessed throughout their programme, to having to complete an End Point Assessment, overseen by an independent Assessor from an Apprenticeship Assessment Organisation (AAO) registered with the Education and Skills Funding Agency. The new role of End Point Assessor will need to be able to objectively assess skills, knowledge and behaviours for a system that includes grading a performance as either Fail, Pass or Distinction. Interested in being an independent end-point assessor? Visit this site.

City & Guilds have produced a very useful "Guide to Choosing an EPA" and a "Checklist for Employers" to use leading up to the gateway and throughout the EPA process.

Health and safety advice for businesses

You can download a free leaflet, which provides straightforward guidance on how you can make sure your business complies with health and safety law. You can also download free versions of the health and safety law poster, as well as a leaflet covering First aid at work: your questions answered.

ESFA Surveys are Now Closed

The ESFA Employer Survey closed on Friday, 4 May. We are pleased to report that ITS made its quotas in both the Learner and Employer Surveys. Many thanks to all who reminded our Learners to complete this task. The effort resulted in 72 completed surveys, which surpassed our quota! Additionally, the Employer Survey was a success with 36 of our businesses responding before the deadline. These are amazing results and we thank you all for taking time out of your busy days to help us achieve the return quotas set by ESFA. The feedback provided via this survey will be posted on our website when it becomes available. Until then, rest assured that Kate will not be sending reminder emails about it anymore... until next year!

"We asked, you said, we did"

We've listened to the feedback from employers and in-salon assessors about the online Prevent module being difficult and time-consuming to complete - and we completely agree! We have replaced it with an easier to follow factsheet and questions that are similar to the one that your apprentices complete but more focused on a supervisory role. Only those who did not complete the 'difficult' version will need to complete the new one - it is available on the website here.

It's a hidden nasty: Parents in dark over need to top up student loans

How many parents realise that if their child goes to university, the government expects them to stump up thousands of pounds a year on top of the debt their offspring will incur from loans? According to the latest submissions to the current review of HE finance, the government is keeping parents in the dark about this. The review will decide whether and how the current fees and loans system should be changed. The government abolished maintenance grants, designed to cover costs such as food, rent and books, from the 2016-17 academic year. They were replaced by loans - in addition to the £9,250 a year tuition fee loan - with students from the lowest income families able to borrow the most. Many argue that it is indefensible that students from the poorest families now leave university with the biggest debts - an average of £57,000 according to an analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies last year. And the National Union of Students says that many working-class students still don't have enough money to cover their daily needs, with many struggling to pay for food or heating. But experts also say the government is betraying students from middle-income families, by "refusing" to warn parents that they are expected to top up the loans for living costs. This can be as much as £4,500 a year for parents of students living outside London, and up to almost £5,000 a year for those in the capital. In its submission to the higher education funding review last week the Higher Education Policy Institute thinktank attacked the government for failing to publish any information about these costs. Hepi's director, Nick Hillman, said: "It's a hidden nasty in the system. Most families don't have £4,500 just lying around." Martin Lewis, founder of the consumer website Moneysavingexpert.com, which has published its own breakdown of expected parental contributions, says it is "an absolute abomination" that the government is leaving parents in the dark. "If you aren't entitled to a full maintenance loan, parents are expected to make up the gap, but what is outrageous is that the Student Loans Company tells you nothing at all about this," he says. "It leads to friction in families and to students being underfunded."

Robert Halfon MP questions key principle behind new T-levels

The former skills minister Robert Halfon has appeared to question the whole design principle behind the government's plan for prestigious new T-levels. Speaking in Westminster Hall last week, Robert Halfon said that while there should be a "rocket booster" attached to the new technical qualifications, he is unsure about forcing 16-year-olds to choose between wholly academic and technical routes. "I have no doubt that T-levels can provide fantastic opportunities for young people to prepare for a successful career and I am impatient to see these on the ground making a tangible impact on their lives," he said. "I would encourage the skills minister to learn from some of our most prestigious apprenticeship employers and attach a rocket booster to the programme. But I do wonder if there is there really a need at age 16 for young people to choose between a wholly academic and a wholly technical route. Might many young people benefit from a more blended opportunity?" Mr Halfon, who is now the chair of the education select committee, used his speech to warn his successor as skills minister Anne Milton that she will have her work cut out to ensure the skills strategy is implemented properly, consider that the economy is changing rapidly. "Driverless vehicles will automate road haulage and taxi operations, artificial intelligence will power medical diagnosis and 3D printing will be used to construct bridges and houses," he said. "Our skills strategy not only needs to address the skills shortages in our economy, but to create our most resilient and adaptable generation of young people. They will need to be able to turn their hand to new careers and demonstrate those human skills, like creativity, that robots cannot master." Mr Halfon wants to see apprenticeships go from "strength to strength" but he worries that "we may be stretching the definition too far". "While most people think of apprenticeships as helping young people to achieve full competency in their future career, the figures show that in the 2016/17 academic year, 260,000 of the 491,000 apprenticeship starts were at level two, while 229,000 of those starts were for individuals ages 25 and above. It is essential that apprenticeships continue to focus first and foremost on preparing young people for skilled jobs - otherwise we weaken one of the key rungs on the ladder of opportunity."

Mind the gap!

Skills Shortage: Finding the right person for the job costs UK plc £1.7 billion

Barely a week goes by without a story in the news about skills shortages in the UK economy, whether at the macro level, in particular sectors or regions. These skills shortages are set to grow in the coming years as a result of Brexit and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Yet, with the closure of the UK Commission on Employment and Skills (UKCES) there is now no organisation keeping track of the size and shape of skills shortages in the UK. What results is a disparate and confusing picture. The Edge Foundation has stepped forward to convene a Skills Shortage Analysis Group bringing together the key organisations and academics with an interest to share plans, research data and messages. The Group will support the Edge Foundation to produce a regular series of Skills Shortage Bulletins presenting key recent data and analysis in one place for the first time. The key messages from the data are clear. There are significant skills shortages across our economy, those shortages are growing and they are costing our businesses dear - more than £1.7bn according to Open University research. Employers are looking for individuals with work experience and key skills like resilience, adaptability and creativity above the paper qualifications that are often only used to sift. Many are concerned that recruits from education are not sufficiently prepared for work. This may be exacerbated by a narrow approach to recruitment. Read the bulletin.

Congratulations to the following learner who completed her Apprenticeships this week

Samantha Reid - Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship - Academy, Claygate

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