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The apprenticeship service – our current roadmap

Following on from my last blog and some of the feedback I received, I wanted to share the current delivery roadmap for the apprenticeship service with you. This starts to outline the most significant developments we are currently planning to release over the next year and a half – it is based on today’s priorities and is subject to change as we move further into delivery.

Iterative development – a service that doesn’t stand still

In my last blog I described how we started delivery of the apprenticeship service with a minimum viable service (MVS) earlier this year and how we have extended the service over the last few months hand-in-hand with our users. I want to pick up on this again as it sets the context for our roadmap, as working in this way means that we are always planning and reviewing new functionality as we learn.

We don’t use a ‘big bang’ approach to launching a digital service whereby all the functionality is designed and built and then delivered to users who have had no input around how they might want to use it. That fixed approach runs the massive risk of a service that doesn’t deliver what users actually want or need.

Instead, we work in an agile way, working with our users to understand their needs and then testing new developments with representative groups to check that they can use the service in a way that fits with how they work in their day jobs. This means we are continually reflecting on user feedback and experience and then feeding that into our build teams to create a better user experience – sometimes this looks significantly different from our initial storyboarding!

And that means a service that doesn’t stand still – factors change, new policies are introduced, new users come on-board, experienced users demand more functionality, and technology and what it can achieve is always advancing too.

Latest improvements

Recent releases into the apprenticeship service have all been in response to employer and provider feedback about what additional features they would find useful and which parts of the service they are finding more difficult to align with their day to day business processes.

Some of the latest updates include:

  • enabling employers to see end-point assessment organisations for an apprenticeship standard when they’re looking on Find apprenticeship training, making it easier to contact them about the service they offer and the costs involved
  • an improved process for amending apprentice records
  • employers being able to edit all the apprentice details, including the start date, before a provider submits matching individualised learner record (ILR) data for an apprentice to the ESFA for the first time
  • providers being able to edit an apprentice record right up until the first successful ILR match
  • providers being able to request that the apprenticeship service record mirrors the ILR if a data match failure occurs due to the apprenticeship course and a successful ILR match has not previously been made
  • a new task list feature on the account home page for employers so that activities an employer needs to complete will be visible, with a link to where they need to go to action the task (this has gone live with one task enabled but more task types will be added over time)

April 2018 and beyond

April 2018 will be a significant landmark in the service as from that point, levy-paying employers will be able to transfer up to 10% of their funds to other employers (both levy-payers and those who don’t pay the levy).

We are still working through the finer details underpinning this change and will keep you all updated but for the service it will likely mean new employers becoming users of the service, and it will involve new business and technical processes to make transfers run smoothly.

Following the agile approach, we will be conducting rigorous testing of this with representative samples of users in advance of going live, so I can assure you that lots of behind the scenes work is well underway to bring us to an April launch for transfers. (You can read more about transfers here.)

An ever-evolving apprenticeship service

By sharing our roadmap, we want our users and stakeholders to have sight of our vision for an ever-evolving and improving apprenticeship service, in which we listen intently to our users and work with them to make the service the best that it can be.

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  1. Comment by Adrian posted on

    It is disappointing to see no mention of an API to enable MI systems to query the TAS programmatically. This would allow “double lock” problems to be identified and fixed proactively.

    For providers with large numbers of apprentices on the TAS it is difficult to ensure the TAS and their MI system are in step without the two systems speaking to each other.

    • Replies to Adrian>

      Comment by Catherine Gilhooly posted on

      Hi. One of our developers is currently working on a blog that will include an insight into our current work to resolve data lock issues.

  2. Comment by Lewis Veale posted on

    I am trying to workout the relationship between the Find An Apprentice service and the existing programmatic APIs. Am I right in thinking that apprenticeships searchable from here:
    ...are the same as those searchable via the API here:
    If not - are there APIs for the Find An Apprenticeship service that we can use to search for, and view the details of, available apprenticeships?

  3. Comment by Kate posted on

    It's disappointing to see no development of any reporting functions from either the employer or provider DAS accounts.

  4. Comment by Catherine Gilhooly posted on

    Hi, our developers are currently working on the functionality for employers to be able to download transactions. They are also working on improving the reporting functions. You may be interested in this recent Q&A with our developers on the FE Connect forum, which we will be following up with a blog post to summarise and speak to the main themes coming through in user feedback.

  5. Comment by Catherine Gilhooly posted on

    To note - I have added the most recent version of the roadmap.

  6. Comment by Martin West posted on

    I know documentation is not considered to be important in agile programming, but Employers and Providers do need some form of detailed guidance so that they can learn to navigate the complexities of the Levy system you have created.
    You never know it might just solve some of the issues you are having if users knew how to use the system.

    • Replies to Martin West>

      Comment by Catherine Gilhooly posted on

      Thank you for your feedback Martin. It is very much appreciated. One of our user researchers would like to contact you by email to open up a dialogue if that is okay, as we would find it really helpful to hear your thoughts on how we can support the users of our service.