Time to mature: The future of the EPAO market

Andrew Gladstone-Heighton, Policy Leader

When we look at the end-point assessment (EPA) market, it can seem uncertain, perhaps even chaotic. This is relatively normal for an emerging market, and best practice will emerge as organisations learn from the successes and mistakes of themselves and others, taking into account the political, social, economic & technological environments in which we all operate.

I’d like to begin by looking at 3 case studies of disruption that are analogous to the EPAO market:

UBER - a technology platform that has disrupted the transit system. By making it convenient through an app on a device to order a taxi on your terms, it has forced other taxi companies to catch up.  By ‘hiding the wiring’ and removing the need to employ its workers, this innovation has changed the urban transport market.

Paypal - the original ‘fintech’ innovator. Having been around some 18 years, Paypal has become ubiquitous, but is a great scalable example of a secure online money transfer system, needing only a linked email address to send money. This facilitating of customer to customer transactions has threatened traditional modes of banking and payment, and led to Paypal being the go-to money handling system for other disruptive service providers such as Pinterest and Airbnb. 

eBay - although originally set up as an online auction platform, now over 50% of all UK online purchases take place through eBay. Of this, 80% of all transactions are ‘buy it now’ transactions (despite it being originally promoted as an auction site) and are also sales by professional businesses rather than individuals. This platform, like the other examples, has continued to evolve to remain relevant and viable.

When looking at world economies, it’s important to look at the 4 stages of market maturity;

  • Stage 1 - Survival
  • Stage 2 - Quality
  • Stage 3 - Convenience
  • Stage 4 – Customisation

This rationale can be applied to new and emerging markets too. It’s our view that the EPA market is still in the early stages of Survival/Quality. The future is unwritten, but open to those who can innovate quickly.

So what has this got to do with apprenticeships?

As the demand for EPA increases, early adopters, who may have seized ground may fail to innovate, and lose traction in the market. Next, their competitors, building on the lessons of early innovators, may see a sharp increase, followed by a decline, as more standards become available and competition increases.

We believe that to create a stable, robust and quality market, we need to collaboratively identify what a great EPA offer looks like, and build toward this at pace. We endeavour to be as easy to work with as possible – whether this is through the latest technology, or through offering world class service support, wherever you are on the EPA journey.

Our vision for our enhanced service proposition for EPA (EPA plus) is a wraparound of support at every stage of the journey - newsletters, webinars, phone support and more; ensuring you have the information you need, when you need it.

Our new EPA offer has the flexibility to work around your business. Our assessments can be delivered either remotely or face to face with apprentices, depending on your need and the circumstances of your apprentice. We’ve been early adopters of remote assessments, made possible by video conferencing software, and we are keen to share the benefits of this with you.

We’re also working on more developments at the moment that are sure to accelerate the development of the market, making it easier and more cost effective to deliver EPA to your apprentices.

By choosing NCFE for your EPA needs, you’re helping us to drive innovation through apprenticeship assessment. We want to hear your feedback, concerns and thoughts on apprenticeships. What are your challenges in getting apprentices to gateway, and helping them succeed? We’ll use this to inform our offer both now and in the future, and lead the next advances that will ensure a quality apprenticeship offer for all.

You can find out more about our offer and get in touch with us here.