The Experienced Workers Route (EWR) has been introduced following feedback from industry around the requirements of employers and employees. Where a company is working within a specific area it is naturally expected that the company engages staff to undertake the activities within each job task who are competent to do that activity.
Some schemes have looked to identify this competence with acceptance of qualifications or short courses and that effectively means that a company may have to engage the services of highly technical people to undertake each function.
Modern companies operate in a dynamic and fast moving market place and are constantly adapting and re-calculating their business operations and consequently can find matching relevant skills with scheme requirements a costly challenge.
A question always asked when looking at qualifications is the level of experience an individual should have in order to undertake a specific qualification route. This has been the subject of much calculation in terms of the following well valued assets to the Qualifications routes:
- Guided Learning Hours,
- A Prior Proved Learning,
- Portfolios of Evidence,
- Continual Professional Development (CPD).
The concept of the EWR approach is to achieve demonstration of competence by utilising alternative routes (other than qualifications), this option is not able to be used the other way around and gain a qualification by evidence of satisfactory completion of an Experienced Workers Route, the methodology and assessment techniques are different.
Some of the key benefits of the Experienced Workers Route are shown below:
- Varying degrees of skills – A company can utilise its workforce to show compliance with all scheme requirements, thus having the potential to have individuals at various skill levels and building on skills and service in a balanced way that is particular to that company.
- Experience – A company can benefit from the levels of experience individuals carry and the individuals will be encouraged and supported by the company to gain more varying and diverse skills to develop the individual and the company alike. This will particularly be relevant to all apprentice routes. The EWR would allow companies the prerogative to demonstrate the competence of the individuals they select for the roles and activities they undertake. An example would be a plumber, who has undergone and achieved the same assessment as the plumbing of bathrooms within the plumbing qualification and is therefore competent at that. It is not the intention of the EWR to reduce the overall skills of operatives, this option would mean the company, through formal demonstration, could allocate the correct staff to the correct roles with appropriate oversight.
- Reduced costs and staff retention – In some schemes, employers have found challenges where the scheme requires the individual to hold specific qualifications, the employers have paid for the training leading to assessment and, once qualified, have found staff leave their employ. The EWR allows for a company to develop their staff in a way that suits the business and yet maintains a healthy link to the staff member. The staff member gains from the training and experience and becomes more efficient and arguably a greater asset to the business. Should the staff member leave, the company only needs to replace the skills sets they have lost and the cost can be reduced. Likewise the staff members take demonstration of what they have achieved and this may be transferable to an alternative EWR provider under demonstration of experience.
- Multiple staff upskilling – Although true competence will be assessed at an individual level, the assessment under the EWR is seeking to ascertain the competence for the route being undertaken, therefore it is possible under the EWR assessment plan for a company to arrange for multiple staff to be assessed on alternative criteria by a single assessor at a fixed location and date, thereby reducing down time from work and aiding, upskilling within business operations.
- Minor upskilling – The EWR allows for smaller levels of upskilling to be completed within a shortened timescale, this should reduce the need for lengthy downtime of staff every 5 years to undertake longer courses. The more frequent minor upskilling reduces stress and burden on staff members and can make upskilling more enjoyable whilst maintaining the requirements of the company.
- Diversification – Where a company is looking to diversify and has the talent and staff, the EWR has the inbuilt flexibility to make formal upskilling swift and efficient.
- Adaptable – Where scheme or company requirements change and the resultant effect has an impact on a company, the EWR may offer an affordable option to adapt within the requirements without unplanned downtime, an example would be where a new product came to market deemed by the scheme to be require a significant change in skill set.
- Flexible learning – The EWR allows a company to gather evidence from varying aspects of its daily operations and where the evidence is well gathered and verifiable can be utilised toward the betterment of the company and staff. This means that the core activities gather evidence toward the flexible learning and non-core activities often requiring intervention from many staff members is reduced.
- Partner Interaction – Where business relationships allow and conflicts of interest are not developed, the EWR approach has the potential to create many added benefits to companies and their business partners. An example would be where a large manufacturer were to offer a “preferred Installer” programme, they may choose to conduct audits, continual professional development programmes, technical support etc. It is possible with an EWR programme to use evidence toward this for evidence of competence. All Scheme requirements would apply. This therefore allows the possibility of existing or new business relationships to have many added benefits for both parties and allows for further support and growth or collaborative working to improve overall quality.
- Multiple Scheme Compliance – As the EWR will follow the same criteria as the Qualifications route, it should be possible to utilise the demonstration of competence against set criteria used in one scheme against the same criteria in alternative schemes, thereby allowing a company to demonstrate competence and potentially compliance with multiple schemes.
As with any approach, the Experienced Workers Routes will need to be applied logically, fairly and honestly by all parties. The criteria will always seek to be the same as the criteria used in the qualifications, Assessment, Internal Verification and final certification decisions will mirror the criteria of the qualification routes thereby maintaining a balanced alternative route.
The Key advantages of EWR allow a different approach for modern business to demonstrate competence for the activities for which they are engaged.