Guidance

Standards and frameworks: an overview

Information about national occupational standards (NOS) and apprenticeship frameworks and how they are developed.

Documents

UKCES Statement of Intent for NOS

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Outputs 2013/14

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Outputs 2012/13

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Details

What are standards and frameworks?

These are a set of products used by a wide variety of organisations and people across the UK. They support progression into the workplace and skills development in work. Since 2012/13 these products have been bought by UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) on behalf of the four UK nations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) that meet the nation’s skills policies and employer demand. UK wide products are:

On behalf of Scotland UKCES also buy Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) structures, credit rating activities, assessment strategies and Core Skills Signposting.

On behalf of Wales and Northern Ireland UKCES also buy Sector Qualification Priority Lists.

The attached documents give details on the types and number of products that have been bought:

  • In 2012/13 - 327 products bought in total

  • In 2013/14 - approximately 250 products bought. Final numbers will be published in June 2014

  • Contracts for 2014/15 are being finalised and will be published in June 2014

Development of National Occupational Standards

The attached statement of intent sets out UKCES’ role as the co-ordinating body for NOS and their plans for a transition year from April 2014 to March 2015.

UKCES will work towards a sustainable approach to developing NOS on behalf of the 4 UK nations using our research and influence with networks of employers. We will work directly with leading employers, the 4 UK nations and stakeholders to agree the future model for NOS and ensure that it reflects the ambition and aspiration of business clearly and effectively.

The statement of intent sets out in detail the plans for a transition year in which UKCES will put in place:

  • a reference framework based on high quality analysis to illustrate where NOS might need to be revised or updated
  • clarity about what high-level outcome-based NOS might look like
  • use of impact measures to provide evidence of how and where NOS can and are making a difference
  • strengthened co-investment in NOS to support business growth
  • increased confidence in quality assurance arrangements for NOS
  • improved access to the NOS database and look at aligning with other relevant databases
  • proposals about how NOS should be financed going forward
  • clear communications and visibility for NOS
  • strong employer-led governance and programme evaluation

There have been several policy reviews across England, Wales and Northern Ireland that may impact on what standards and frameworks look like and which products are needed. In England the Review of Adult Vocational Qualifications, and the Richard Review of Apprenticeships both made recommendations for improvements. In June 2014 Northern Ireland released details of its Northern Ireland consultation on Apprenticeships. And the Apprenticeship funding consultation in England closed in May.

Development of standards and frameworks

Working with the four nations of the UK and employers, UKCES decides what standards and frameworks are needed. They are then bought from the preferred suppliers. To help decide what standards and frameworks are needed UKCES:

  • use research, data and intelligence to help determine what products are needed and where. This information comes from a variety of sources including sector based UKCES research findings and nation specific priorities
  • speak with employers to determine what standards and frameworks they require in their businesses
  • speak with the individual nations to determine what their priority sectors area and where they predict growth

UKCES buys the products from a group of preferred suppliers and monitor and manage the quality and delivery. Once they are developed and quality assured they provide an internationally acknowledged and UK industry recognised benchmark for competence in the workplace. The preferred suppliers consist of eight partnerships each led by a Sector Skills Council (SSC). They have a 3 year agreement from 2011-2015 to supply the standards needed. Each of the collaborative partnerships are detailed below:

Lead Supplier Partners
Asset Skills Summit Skills, Skills for Security
Construction Skills CITB, ProSkills
Creative Skillset Creative and Cultural Skills
EU Skills Cogent, Improve, ProSkills, SEMTA, Summit Skills & MPQC
e-skills -
Lantra SkillsActive, People 1st, Improve, Council for Administration, IMI, Skills for Logistics
Skills for Care and Development Skills Third Sector
Universal Skills Ltd (Skills For Justice, Skills For Health, Financial Skills Partnership) Skills Third Sector

The suppliers work with employers, professional bodies, trade associations and others in their sector to develop the standards and frameworks that are relevant for their industry. The products are quality assured, approved by the four nations and published for use. More details are on National Occupational Standards and Apprenticeship Frameworks.

For more information please contact Sarah Black

Published 16 June 2014