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Apprentice in training

Apprenticeship body updates payroll qualification


Ian Holloway reports on the recent review of payroll administrator apprenticeships, what improvements will be made, and the next steps in the development of this payroll-specific qualification.

20th Jul 2022
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Since 2018, the Payroll Administrator Apprenticeship has provided many employees and employers with the opportunity to take a professional and vocational qualification in payroll adminstration. As chair of the Trailblazer group responsible for developing occupational standards, I was thrilled to be able to bring this to the payroll profession. It was good to know that it has benefited many, developing the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for new blood or to upskill our profession. However,  four years on, it is time to review the apprenticeship.

There are two main reasons:

  1. I have an obligation as chair to review the apprenticeship to ensure it is still appropriate
  2. Payroll does not stand still as practices and procedures have evolved in our profession.

Now we have the enviable position of hindsight. I have seen the apprenticeship in operation and I am aware of the things that work well or, maybe, could work better.

What is changing?

Perhaps it is better to start by saying what is not changing. There is still a requirement for this professional and vocational qualification and it will remain. However, what this review allows is for my Trailblazer colleagues and I to look at what went well and what didn’t, and then update the content so it is suitable moving forward.

The key changes are to build on lessons learned and future-proof the apprenticeship. With thanks to all of those that have contributed, at the end of our review, we will do four things:

  1. Update the apprenticeship to ensure that the relevant payroll knowledge, skills and behaviours are taught
  2. Withdraw references to things that are not appropriate, for example, the wide range of pension information, recognising that this is not a pensions apprenticeship
  3. Remove any ambiguity from the learning outcomes, ensuring that the learning outcomes are less open to interpretation 
  4. Ensure that this remains the professional and vocational qualification at this level.

What else?

Every qualification needs a robust and appropriate assessment mechanism, referred to in the end-point assessment (EPA) plan. In 2018, we believed that we had developed one, and indeed, many apprentices have completed and gained this professional qualification using that plan.

However, this review allows us to align assessment at level 3 with the way that assessment is performed at level 5 payroll assistant manager apprenticeship. So, we will revise the assessment methods, replacing the role simulation based on a fictional organisation to become project based around what the apprentice actually does at the workplace.

This further solidifies the qualification as being both professional and vocational.

Next steps

The revised apprenticeship is being proofed by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. Together with the Trailblazer group, I am working on the wording of the EPA Plan.

I have meetings at the end of July to work through the funding mechanism – the mechanism that will allocate a band that relates to the apprenticeship levy funds.

With thanks to all that are involved, I am hopeful that I will be ready to formally submit the revised level 3 payroll administrator apprenticeship for ministerial approval later in 2022.

I will always communicate to the profession and provide updates, ensuring that this is truly a payroll qualification built by the profession specifically for the profession.

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