Apprenticeship Assessments

From frameworks to standards, apprenticeships are changing, including the way apprentices are assessed. Reformed apprenticeships include an End Point Assessment (EPA) provided by a Government approved independent Apprentice Assessment Organisation (AAO) to determine an apprentice’s competency against the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours required by employers.

We believe that it is the assessment element that will ‘make apprenticeships matter’ for employers, training providers and apprentices by ensuring that apprenticeships are successfully completed and apprentices are more employable and socially mobile as a result.

The EPA is a vital part of the apprenticeship journey as it evaluates the individual’s competency and provides certification to qualify the apprentice. From the outset, employers should ensure that apprenticeships are designed in a way that supports the EPA. It is important that training providers and employers choose AAOs that are both operationally ready and have the experience to offer quality support throughout the apprenticeship from development to pre-assessment to completion.

The apprentice assessment process

Programme planning

Employers register on the Government’s online Apprentices Service to provide apprenticeships, choosing a training provider and AAO, agreeing prices for the training and EPA, then they recruit their apprentice.

Apprenticeship duration

Apprenticeships last from a minimum of 12 to 24 months, with higher-level standards taking longer.

On programme

Once employed, the apprentice is ‘On Programme’ to gain the specific knowledge, skills and behaviour to be competent in their job. Each apprenticeship has its own method of achieving and demonstrating competence, which can include:

  • Technical qualifications
  • A portfolio of evidence
  • A research project

Literacy and Numeracy

Apprentices must have or work towards an appropriate level of English and maths for their level of apprenticeship, aspiring to a higher level where appropriate.

E-portfolio compatibility

Most apprentices use an electronic portfolio on-programme. NOCN’s assessment system is fully compatible with leading e-portfolio systems, including Smart Assessor and OneFile.

Assessment Gateway

Once an apprentice has completed the ‘On Programme’ activities, the employer and training provider decide when they are ready for EPA; they then enter the Assessment Gateway. This will usually be three-months in advance of their EPA.

EPA location

EPAs happen at an appropriate place, agreed by and under the supervision of NOCN as the AAO. This can include:

  • The employer’s premises
  • An external assessment centre*
  • Remotely via Skype
  • Online assessment

*Organisations interested in becoming an NOCN Assessment Centre should get in touch to discuss commercial arrangements.

NOCN EPA management system

NOCN has an EPA IT system ready to manage the assessment process from apprentice registration, through to assessment, grading and certification.

Flexibility and affordability

NOCN is friendly and flexible, working in partnership to ensure each EPA meets the needs of the employer and apprentice. NOCN promises to keep its EPA charges fair.


NOCN will confirm an appropriate grade for the apprentice, based on how they perform in all the assessment elements. For most apprenticeships, this grade may be a pass, merit or distinction.


If an apprentice is not successful, they can be resubmitted for all or part of the EPA after an appropriate period of additional training. Each part or full EPA is charged for so it is important to be certain the apprentice is ready.


NOCN will arrange certification with the ESFA, which produces reformed apprenticeship certificates.

Quality Assurance

NOCN follows stringent internal quality assurance procedures. It is also subject to external QA by appointed organisations. EQA costs are not included in the EPA price.

Download a PDF summary of our Apprenticeship Assessment Services: NOCN Apprenticeship Assessment flyer February 2017.


NOCN is available to act as a consultant to employers and training providers to help you get ready for the Apprenticeship Levy and the reforms as they roll out in 2017. Find out about our free apprenticeship readiness assessments and/or fill in our NOCN Apprenticeship End Point Assessment enquiry form.

  • How does EPA work? Click here to read NOCN's information leaflets.

  • As training providers receive confirmation from the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) on whether they have been successfully approved on the Government’s ‘Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers’ (RoATP) and are now able to deliver the new apprenticeship standards from May 2017, NOCN is ready to help with what to do next.