August 3, 2022
Achieve Training – ‘Giving apprentices more’ – from Domestic Gas Foundation MLPs to delivering End-point Assessments (EPAs)
Based in Stoke-on-Trent, Achieve Training is the award-winning training arm of social housing group Aspire Housing. A social enterprise, Achieve Training supports adults into employment, creates practical apprenticeships, and helps businesses to upskill their workforce.
Achieve Training has worked with BPEC since 2015 in a range of areas across plumbing, heating and gas, including Managed Learning Programmes as well as Gas Engineering Operative End-point Assessments delivered by BPEC. “It’s a magic formula: we have a close working relationship with BPEC, working together on a flexible approach that delivers timely outcomes for apprentices,” says Orienda Hatfield, Building Services & Engineering Manager, Achieve Training. “BPEC is very easy to work with.”
Orienda says that while she knew the BPEC name from a previous role, “It was mainly the positive experiences of my colleague Ian Couzens that led us down the BPEC route.” Until 2015, plumbing and gas training was contracted out to a local college, with the only provision in-house covering basic plumbing skills. “We proposed delivering the Level 2 and Level 3 framework for plumbing and heating, with the gas pathway at Level 3. So we got all of the practical provision for that in place, including BPEC as the approving body, working closely with BPEC to get up-and-running and offer those Level 2 and 3 apprenticeships. This has been really successful, in terms of numbers of apprentices, and we also formed strong relationships with local businesses.” Achieve Training has up to 50 gas apprentices at any one time.
Achieve Training and BPEC: a strong working relationship
“We offer a range of qualifications from BPEC,” Orienda continues. This includes ACS Domestic Gas, ACS Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), Domestic Gas Foundation (Managed Learning Programme), BPEC Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Plumbing and Heating, Above Ground Drainage and Rainwater Systems, Domestic Hot Water Storage Systems (Unvented), Legionella Risk Assessment and Water Systems Disinfection for Mechanical Services, Water Regulations/Byelaws, and Part L (Energy Efficiency).
“Our current focus is the Level 3 Gas Engineering Operative apprenticeship, and we’ve had a great deal of success,” Orienda says. “We work closely with BPEC to get apprentices to the point where they can meet the requirements of the gateway, working with BPEC’s End-point Assessment Manager Garry Glover to ensure impetus for our apprentices to complete the EPA. BPEC provides a really professional EPA service.”
Towards successful EPAs
To enable apprentices to complete their training, pass their EPA successfully and have the right skills and abilities to succeed, Achieve Training partners with BPEC to weave-in disciplines, knowledge and learnings from the Domestic Gas Foundation MLP onwards to provide the best experience and outcomes.
With the National Accredited Certification Scheme (ACS) a recognised route to gain a certificate of competence for the Gas Safe Register, “We use the Domestic Gas Foundation programme to give apprentices ACS eligibility,” says Orienda. “The EPA has a different focus to the Managed Learning Programme but both are components in getting from A to B. We’ve made the MLP more valuable in terms of collecting the criteria required for the End-point Assessment. As a result, we’ve raised the standard and quality of what’s accepted in the MLP, enriching and diversifying the content, and further motivating apprentices. Other providers use a mandated qualification approach but you can lose some of the motivation for the EPA. Our approach with BPEC really suits our employers and apprentices.” Achieve Training has experienced a high level of successful outcomes delivering the Gas Engineering Operative apprenticeship.
“BPEC understands what we want to achieve with our apprentices, and supports us to make it happen. They are also highly responsive, including advice and practical support if we want to offer new qualifications. BPEC has changed and adapted alongside us – and that’s part of the success of our partnership.” This success is reflected in highly positive employer and apprentice feedback.
Achieve Training is also committed to promoting greater diversity and inclusion in the sector. “Representation is important, providing opportunities for everyone – opening the doors to people who may be unsure about this as a career,” Orienda adds. “As a successful senior gas engineer, I’m happy to be a role model.” Gas Engineering apprentice Melissa Hart is one example: “I’d say to any girl leaving school or looking at changing their career path, definitely look into gas engineering. It’s challenging but it’s such a rewarding career.”