Collaborative approach helps keep apprenticeships on track during lockdown

THE Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbers’ Federation (SNIPEF) has been working with colleges to ensure apprentices have been able to continue to learn their trade during the Covid-19 crisis.

Since the start of the shutdown of the construction industry, SNIPEF revealed it has been proactive in ensuring that the Modern Apprenticeship in Plumbing and Heating has been able to carry on with the ‘minimum of disruption’.

The approach has been to establish combined SNIPEF/college task forces to create online alternative assessment practices for the theory work the students must undertake.

The task forces have been resourced by SNIPEF staff, in partnership with other key stakeholders in a range of disciplines from the industry and the educational sector, including IT professionals as well as representatives from bodies such as the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

Dale Thomson, training manager at SNIPEF explained, “Most apprentices have been furloughed and the colleges have shut down or are running at very limited capacity. As a result, alternative assessment models have had to be put in place. The Plumbing and Heating qualification comprises a mix of practical and theoretical work and the online alternative assessments the task forces have created will be with colleges shortly, so that they can be used by apprentices before the end of term.”

Fiona Hodgson, chief executive of SNIPEF added, “This has been another inspired collective effort between SNIPEF and its education partners to whom we are extremely grateful. As a result of their commitment and co-operation apprentices will be able to progress with their qualification and reduce the amount of catch up work required as the sector restarts and colleges re-open.”

Sam Thomson, curriculum manager for plumbing, electrical installation and schools at Glasgow Kelvin College and a senior SQA verifier commented, “The SNIPEF apprentices are at a critical stage in their education and it is important that we keep disruption to their training to a minimum. The task forces have achieved a great deal in a very short space of time and once a satisfactory alternative is in place for the theory assessments, they will turn their attentions to the issues related to practical assessments. This initiative, which means that work can be done remotely, has also gone some way to easing the pressures of social distancing at colleges across Scotland.”

Alistair Wylie, head of technology, engineering and construction qualifications at SQA said, “The collaborative approach adopted by SNIPEF and its partners, to take the necessary action that has allowed Modern Apprentices to continue with their learning, and development throughout the crisis, is to be applauded. This is a fantastic example of educators, and industry coming together to support young people though this exceptionally challenging period, and I thank everyone involved for their collective efforts.”

SNIPEF has a total of 807 apprentices at 18 colleges across Scotland currently in training.