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Understanding Initial Assessment

Understanding Initial Assessment

Whether you are an employer or an apprentice, understanding the purpose of the initial assessment is important – in this post, we’ll look at what it is, why we do it and what you can expect from it.The ESFA (the funding agency behind apprenticeships) has stated that they are aware employers are not well engaged with initial assessments… so, let’s take this opportunity to put that right!

The initial assessment is part of the sign-up, or onboarding, process and there are various reasons why it has to be completed.

Why Do An Initial Assessment?

The initial assessment aims to ensure that the apprenticeship programme is appropriate for the apprentice and whilst much of the focus tends to be on maths and English, it’s actually a lot wider ranging that this.

The initial assessment takes into account the applicant’s prior learning and experience, looking at previously gained qualifications and their relevancy and currency. Appropriate experience gained in the workplace, through work experience or as part of extra-curricular activities are also discussed. If we have an understanding of where the potential apprentice is in relation to the required knowledge, skills and behaviours in the proposed apprenticeship, we can tailor the programme to suit (and assess whether the apprenticeship in question is actually the right, or best, way forward.

Whilst the apprentice gets a tailored programme and guidance on what needs to be completed, the employer also needs to be included in this process; with one, very good, reason as to why… you can save money.


A training provider must carry out and record the steps taken to complete the initial assessment… and the make adjustments to the programme where appropriate. Those adjustments include changing the duration, content and price of the apprenticeship. This matters if you’re a levy-paying employer (as you’ll pay the full total negotiated price) and if you are a non-levy paying employer (where you’ll pay 5% of the total negotiated price).

How Is The Initial Assessment Done?

The initial assessment is not a single ‘thing’ but a multi-step approach. It starts with the potential apprentice applying for the apprenticeship on our website; we assess the application form, arrange an interview and discuss the overall application. We’ll ask to see proof of any qualifications gained, check what level they are at and the grades achieved.

We also ask all applicants to complete both maths and English initial assessments through our online tool – this helps us assess the level at which apprentices are working at and this allows us to direct resources where they’ll be needed. Applicants will also have to complete a skills scan, which rates the applicant against each knowledge, skill and behaviour contained in the apprenticeship.

If an apprentice requires learning support, we’ll assess those requirements too and see how we can help.

Based on all the above information, we can build the commitment statement. This document is absolutely fundamental to the employer and the apprentice (and we will take a closer look at what is contained in it, in another post), but suffice to say, that it sets out what is to be covered and how much it’s going to cost.


The initial assessment is an integral part of the onboarding process for an apprentice. It allows us to tailor the delivery to the apprentice and provide a negotiated price to the employer.

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