In 2015 – right at the start of the current apprenticeship reforms– the University College of Estate Management (UCEM) decided to get ahead of the game by introducing degree apprenticeships. Designed by employers with input from higher education institutions (HEIs) and professional bodies, degree apprenticeships combine university study with workplace learning, leading to a full Bachelor’s or Master’s degree and, in most cases, a professional qualification such as Chartered status.
This was no easy operation. Apprenticeships were new to UCEM, so they needed to implement a range of apprenticeship management processes to ease the transition into delivering degree apprenticeships. For instance, they wanted to minimise physical paper storage, and ensure that employers – as well as UCEM delivery staff and apprentices – could access progress information for apprentices. After all, the apprenticeship standards were written by employers for employers – so it makes sense for them to want to track their apprentices’ progress.
“A number of eportfolio systems were considered,” reports John Pratt, UCEM’s head of apprenticeship management. “But OneFile appealed because it met all our requirements.”
“The key features we sought were the ability to create bespoke aims, and access the eportfolio from a range of different devices – including when working offline.” OneFile’s app – available for iOS, Android and Windows devices – enables users to capture evidence without an internet connection, then sync data to the eportfolio when they connect to Wifi: ideal for capturing video or photo evidence on-the-job.
Additionally, they wanted an auditable eportfolio that was also cost-effective. “OneFile saves us time and money,” says John. “We’ve reduced our paper and printing costs because we can carry out remote reviews using video conferencing, and there’s no need for storage space because hard copy portfolios don’t need to be produced.”
AT YOUR SERVICE
OneFile’s features suited UCEM down to the ground – but they also needed sufficient support to implement OneFile at their centre, especially since the degree apprenticeship delivery was so new. “For us, one of the most important aspects of OneFile is the support that was, and continues to be, available both during the implementation stage, and post-implementation,” John says.
But the support doesn’t end there. Our customer delivery team is on hand to answer any questions our customers have, and our account managers travel the UK sharing tricks of the trade – so our customers are supported through all new endeavours they take on.
MADE TO MEASURE
“The most important aspect of OneFile is the ability to customise the product to suit our needs,” John says. “It allows for customisation at user level to suit individual needs, such as dyslexia. We’ve also been able to develop a bespoke progress review, which focuses on UCEM’s apprenticeship delivery model and the specific requirements of monitoring progress within degree apprenticeships.”
As well as customisable terminology, assessment methods and forms, OneFile builds each bespoke apprenticeship standard from scratch. In UCEM’s case, this helped them use OneFile exactly as they’d planned: as a progress tracking system. “Each degree apprenticeship component – degree, workplace competency requirements and end-point assessment – has been built in OneFile. This enables progress to be tracked and recorded across the entire apprenticeship – not just for the degree component.”
This progress can then be viewed by the apprentice, the apprenticeship officer and – crucially, for UCEM – the employer. “Employers increasingly expect access to high-quality, up-to-date progress information for their apprentices,” says John. “And OneFile enables UCEM to meet this expectation.”
FOR THE MASSES
But it’s not just employers who benefit from OneFile’s flexibility. Delivery staff – and most importantly learners – also see the advantages of using OneFile. “Apprentices can add their own information to record their personal development. Employers and apprenticeship officers have the ability to view and compare apprentice progress by cohort and location, and all UCEM delivery staff can run a range of reports.”
Degree apprenticeships allow universities to access new markets, diversify their student base and build bridges with local enterprises – and OneFile’s eportfolio makes it simple for HEIs like UCEM to deliver them.
“OneFile is a versatile, flexible and user-friendly solution,” concludes John. “It’s well-suited to the needs of delivering and managing standards-based degree apprenticeships.”