The Scotland and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation’s (SNIPEF) training arm, SNIPEF Training Services, (STS) working together as a task group with nine of Scotland’s colleges, has been shortlisted in the category of “Best Use of Technology in the Delivery of Plumbing Training” by BPEC, the nationally recognised training organisation which is set to hold its Annual Awards for Excellence 2021 ceremony online on Wednesday 08 December.
STS subcontracts off-the-job training to 18 colleges located across Scotland where around 850 apprentices are currently in training. The COVID-19 lockdown and the closure of colleges throughout the country, presented the challenge of ensuring apprentices remained on track to complete their Plumbing & Heating (P&H) Modern Apprenticeship (MA).
Apprentices were unable to enter college premises to undertake their theoretical/practical assessments in the SQA assessments rooms, so STS approached the MA joint awarding bodies, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and the Scottish and Northern Ireland Joint Industry Board (SNIJIB) to explore alternative assessments (AA) procedures.
Dale Thomson, Apprentice Training Manager for SNIPEF, said: “First, we had to ensure any new assessments could be accessed by all apprentices from the safety of their own homes, so we decided to use Microsoft Forms as all apprentices have a Microsoft account.
“Second, with distance learning, we had to ensure that all apprentices had access to suitable IT equipment and were able to undertake assessments, so we worked with our subcontractors to facilitate this.”
Together the task group created 19 AAs with three variations each, typically with around 20/40 questions in each assessment. The work for the AAs ensured that when colleges were able to return, they only had to get apprentices up to date with their practical assessments.
“The new AAs have been well received from the CN (?), employers, apprentices and the Scottish Government’s Skills Minister, Jamie Hepburn. Due to its success the joint awarding bodies asked STS to look after and maintain the AAs which will in due course replace the SQA solar assessments”, said Mr Thomson.
Fiona Hodgson, Chief Executive of SNIPEF, said: “The clarity and determination with which the task group addressed the issue and rapidly developed an excellent alternative solution is a tribute to the professionalism of its members.
“It is gratifying to have been shortlisted for this award which, in its own way, underlines the importance of applying new technologies to a range of issues not only within the plumbing and heating sector but in the UK construction industry generally.”