You need to submit an occupation proposal:

  • for a new occupational standard, where the occupational standard will be the basis of an apprenticeship or technical education qualification  
  • to add or remove an option (occupation) in an existing core and options occupational standard, or to add an occupation and create a core and options occupational standard (see below)
  • for a revision to an occupational standard in some cases

An occupation proposal must meet our occupation requirements for us to agree to its development as an occupational standard.

Your product manager (PM) can lead a workshop to help you develop your occupation proposal. 

You need to use apprenticeship builder to complete your occupation proposal and to submit it into the approvals process, along with any supporting evidence. The apprenticeship builder (not used exclusively for apprenticeships) will also be the way you submit your occupational standard and EPA plan.

Your product manager (PM) must confirm that your documents are ready for consideration before you submit them


1. Occupational standards requirements

An occupational standard is a description of an occupation. It contains an occupational profile and describes the ‘knowledge, skills and behaviours’ (KSBs) needed for someone to be competent in the occupation’s duties.

An occupational standard is a component of an apprenticeship, along with the end-point assessment plan (EPA) and funding band. They are developed by employers to describe the duties, and KSBs needed to be fully competent in an occupation. Occupational standards must meet the Institute’s occupation criteria.


The occupation must: be in demand in the labour market be transferable to a range of other employers and secure long term earnings potential, greater security and capability to progress meet the standards of a range of employers rather than the needs of one employer.

We will assess this by: comparing the occupational profile with job advertisements and recruitment materials reviewing evidence that the occupation is in demand from a range of employers, using similar occupation/job titles and descriptions.

Sufficiently broad, deep and skilled

The occupation must: be sufficiently skilled in terms of breadth and depth to require employment and training or education of at least a year’s duration (for apprenticeships, this means that full-time apprentices working 30 hours or more per week should spend an average of at least 6 hours per week in off-the-job training).

We will assess this by: looking to see that the expected training or education duration is at least one year (with at least 6 hours of off-the-job training per week for a full-time apprenticeship). We may ask for a summary model off-the-job training programme for the occupation if there is doubt confirming that the occupation is not level 1 by reviewing it against our occupation level guide and the Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) from the Office for National Statistics. Roles in group 8 (routine operative) and group 9 (elementary occupations and some in groups 6 and 7 may not meet the skills required for an apprenticeship.

Provides full occupational competence for new entrants

The occupation and occupational profile must: fully define occupational competence for a new entrant to the occupation rather than only part of this.

We will assess this by: evaluating whether the occupational profile reflects full competence in the occupation confirming that the occupation profile takes account of the expected prior knowledge or skills of a new entrant to the occupation confirming that the full knowledge required can be readily defined across a range of employers. We may need to seek additional information to do this.

Recognised and stands alone

The occupation must: be recognised by a range of employers and people practising the occupation, be one occupation relating to one level only at 2 to 7, aligns with an occupation within the relevant occupational map, or the occupation could be added, be recognised by relevant professional bodies or regulators.

We will assess this by: determining that the occupation is widely known to employers, including the route panel and small employers determining if the occupation title and content is distinct from other developed occupations at all levels and across all routes and pathways or those agreed for development checking evidence that the occupation reflects the views of professional and regulatory bodies where relevant.


2. Submitting an occupation enquiry

On first identifying the need for a new occupational standard, you will need to complete an enquiry form. Please email the enquiries team with the subject line: New Occupational Proposal and state the suggested title and route for your occupational proposal if known. The relevant member of the route group will then get back to you to ask for further details.

As part of this exercise, you will be asked to identify the occupation title. This will also be the title of any apprenticeship based on the occupational standard. It should conform to generally accepted titling guidelines in your sector(s). Our titles guide provides some general guidance.

Once you have submitted your enquiry form we will review your enquiry and ascertain whether there is sufficient evidence of demand to warrant taking the enquiry further. You will receive confirmation of the outcome of this review within eight weeks.

If we determine that there is sufficient evidence to proceed, you will be allocated a product manager (PM) who will work with you to develop the occupational profile and the associated job titles and duties.

3. Developing the occupational profile

Occupation profile

The main requirement for an occupation proposal is to produce an occupation profile. This has an overview of the occupation, typical job titles and a set of duties. The overview and duties should complement rather than repeat each other.


You need to complete four statements to form the overview.

Below are some examples of what information to include under each statement. Some information may be more relevant to your occupation than others.

Aim to keep the overview short and snappy so that the reader (for example, a potential apprentice) can quickly get a good idea of what the occupation involves.

The readability of an occupational standard should be appropriate to the skill level of the occupation. As far as possible, the language used should also be gender-neutral. Our guidance on language to use will help you.

This occupation is found in:

  • state the sector(s) or industries where the occupation is typically found
  • outline the range of workplaces or applications
  • outline the types and size of employers
  • add any other useful background information that defines the occupation

The broad purpose of the occupation is:

  • start by stating the overarching goal or broad purpose of the occupation
  • provide a high-level summary of the key duties, showing how they interact
  • outline any important information about the work environment, such as shift work, working at heights or outdoors
  • state if they typically need to drive as part of the role
  • include any statutory licensing requirements, for example, Gas Safe registration

In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with:

  • provide brief details of types of organisations, and internal and external functions that the employee would need to interact with (showing the range of levels)
  • add who they would typically report to

An employee in this occupation is responsible for:

  • explain what they must consider when doing the duties, like targets, timescales, regulations, ethics, professionalism. If you are developing an apprenticeship, these are likely to feature in the grading descriptors in your EPA plan
  • state the level of independence - the extent to which they are supervised or acting alone
  • outline resources they may be responsible for like budgets, company vehicle, tools

You can see an example of a profile from our apprenticeship standard section.

Typical job titles

Job titles for the same occupation often vary between sectors, sub-sectors, and employers. Using the Apprenticeship Builder, list the typical job titles used for the occupation and select whether any of them reflect green jobs. A green job role directly supports the UK government’s policy to tackle climate change.

Once your occupational standard is published, if someone enters one of these job titles in Apprenticeship Search it will take them to your apprenticeship webpage. This will detail all job roles relevant to your apprenticeship with any green ones highlighted as in the following case for Water Industry Treatment Process Technician:

Graphic showing relevant job roles with any green ones highlighted

All apprenticeships that include green job titles can also be selected via Apprenticeship Search using the filter button:

graphic showing green job search box


Typical progression routes help individuals to identify career opportunities and goals.

Select typical progression routes for people in the occupation from the occupational maps. They can be at the same level or at a higher level than the proposed level of the occupational standard. They may be across different occupational routes. If a typical progression route exists for an occupational that is not on an occupational map, please state its title and level (1 to 7).


Duties describe what someone in the occupation ‘usually’ does in the workplace. They are sometimes called competences or activities. They should be distinct and complete activities – not tasks that make up part of a duty. They usually have an outcome. They are what you would find listed in a job description. For example, an engineering maintenance technician may have duties such as, installing equipment, conducting planned maintenance of equipment, or respond to breakdowns and conducting reactive maintenance.  Duties are not what you need to know or how you do something – this information will be covered in the knowledge and skills sections.

The occupational profile should list around 10 to 20 duties.

After completing an apprenticeship, a learner should have the competence to enable them to work in the role. Learners may also be able to gain some competence in the occupation by obtaining qualifications that align with that occupation. The duties in the occupational standard should be set at an appropriate level.

Individual employer’s roles may have different duties, more duties, or fewer duties than those you identify as needed for the occupational standard.

To write good duties:

  • start each duty with a verb
  • provide workplace context and give examples to help understanding
  • ensure they are not phrased skills or responsibilities (see above)

For a core and options standard, state the option number and option name at the start of each option’s duty.

For the overview and duties:

To develop the occupational profile, we suggest you:

  • ask every employer to bring along (or submit) their own job descriptions for the occupation
  • identify common duties within all or some of the job descriptions and produce an initial list
  • decide as a group which duties usually make up the occupation – think of it as a job description for the industry
  • ask someone who is not familiar with the occupation to read your draft profile, to see if they can understand it. If they need to ask questions, you probably need to do further work

Typical number of off-the-job training days for an apprenticeship

If you are developing an apprenticeship, you need to identify the number of off-the-job training days required by a new entrant to achieve competence in each duty. This is not required if you are developing an occupational standard only.

A new entrant may not be new to the sector. You can assume some prior knowledge and skills if this is normal. Use the typical entry point (see below) to the apprenticeship as your starting point.

Apprenticeships must have at least one year’s employment, and full-time apprentices working 30 hours or more per week should spend an average of at least 6 hours per week in off-the-job training before taking their EPA.

Trailblazer groups and reference numbers

Trailblazer groups and occupational standards have a unique reference number. Your product manager will advise you of these.


Routes are 15 sector groups of occupations. There is an occupational map, for each route.

You need to state which route you think your occupation belongs to.

Occupational level

You need to indicate the occupation level, based on our guidance on occupational standard levels.

The occupation level will also determine the level of an apprenticeship if you are developing one.

As part of the approvals process, we will decide on the occupational level.

For apprenticeships only

Typical duration (months)

You need to state the typical time that it will take to complete the training in months for the occupational standard. That is the period up to the gateway, before starting end-point assessment.

Target date (approved for delivery)

Enter the date that you aim to have completed the development work and the apprenticeship will be ‘approved for delivery’.

Degree apprenticeship

A degree apprenticeship includes a mandated bachelor’s or master’s degree. Where applying the degree apprenticeships policy to a new apprenticeship, you will need to discuss with your PM the case for mandating a degree before you submit your proposal and then formalise this request when you submit your proposal as detailed in Section 2 of our Degree Apprenticeships 2022 requirements and guidance.



4. Core and options

Core and options is a way of grouping two or more related occupations that employers recognise as sharing a common set of knowledge, skills, and behaviours. Occupations grouped together in this way will share knowledge, skills, and behaviours (in the core), and each occupation within the grouping will also have its own additional knowledge and skills (in the option).

For example, the water network operative apprenticeship covers the following two occupations:

  1. Clean water network operative
  2. Waste water network operative

Each occupation in a core and options approach must meet the requirements for an occupation, and each occupation is considered to have its own occupational standard consisting of the content of the core and the option.

In core and options, there are core duties and knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) that are shared across the occupations. There are also duties, knowledge, and skills (and maybe behaviours) specific to each occupation (option).

A learner will need the KSBs detailed in the core and the relevant option to be competent in their occupation.

The core should be large enough so a learner would not need a significant amount of training to become competent in an occupation covered by another option.

An occupation proposal for a core and options needs to provide information on each occupation.

Apprenticeship builder allows you to select the core and options approach.

PMs will help you to identify where an occupation could form part of a core and options. Where this is possible, you still need to submit a proposal to add an option (occupation) to an existing core and options; or add an occupation to create a core and options.

For apprenticeships only

Core and option apprenticeships are allocated one funding band. Different funding bands are not allocated to different options. Where options have different costs associated with them, the funding band will be assigned based on the lowest cost option to achieve the apprenticeship. This is something you will need to consider when determining the viability and content of a core and options approach.

The development of apprenticeships in a core and options format can make it easier to understand common training and transferable skills across related occupations.

5. Additional information

KSB categories

You will be asked to provide a list of high level occupational categories, that the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSB) can be mapped against, to demonstrate competence for this occupation. 

For example: Health and Safety; Patient Safety; Regulatory requirements; Communication; Quality and Governance; Sustainable and Green; Finance; taking account of construction sector report "xyz" etc.

Please note, the number of KSB categories you include is optional, however you will need to provide at least one and the more evidence you provide the better, as we can provide feedback to you once your proposal is formally submitted.

Assessment methods

You will be asked to include the end-point assessment methods likely to be used to assess competence against the KSBs as a whole.

Typical entry points to the apprenticeship and occupation

Each employer can set their own entry requirements to the apprenticeship, but you should outline any typical entry requirements where they exist. This could be “employers will typically expect someone applying for the apprenticeship to have ‘x’ experience or ‘y’ qualifications”. Where qualifications are cited, it is important to consider equivalents such as T Levels rather than solely A levels.

Where there are statutory or regulatory entry requirements for an occupation, they must be stated. For example, safety or statutory requirements that prevent 16- to 18-year-olds working in the occupation.


An occupational standard should support transferability. This requires the occupational standard’s duties and KSBs to be set at an appropriate level, not at the lowest common denominator.

You need to outline the steps you have taken, or will take, to ensure that the proposed occupational standard provides transferability.

You should detail the range of employer types, directly and indirectly, involved so far. Along with any support organisations.

You need to upload two recent job adverts for the occupations to apprenticeship builder, as one PDF document. For a core and options proposal, this applies to each occupation.

Typical number of starts for an apprenticeship

Provide an estimate of the typical number of annual starts you expect on your apprenticeship.

Stand-alone occupation

You need to show that the proposed occupational standard covers a stand-alone occupation.

You need to explain how the occupation is different to any similar occupations already covered by an occupational standard. If an existing occupational standard could cover an occupation, we will not permit the development of another one. There may be some overlap of duties and KSBs between occupational standards, but this should not be significant.  

You should list any similar occupational standards and explain how they might be different to the one in your proposal.

You should identify where your occupation fits within the relevant occupational map.

Mandatory qualifications and professional recognition

At the occupation proposal stage you should include high-level information about any qualifications you believe should be mandated within the apprenticeship. Full information, including evidence to justify mandating the qualification, will need to be provided when you submit the occupational standard. Further information about mandated qualifications policy is available in section 7 of our developing an occupational standard guidance.

Professional recognition or status demonstrates that an individual has reached a recognised standard of competence. Unless the professional recognition is provided by a statutory regulator – see below, it is not a requirement to work in the occupation but it may enhance their employability. For example, an individual working in an engineering occupation may meet the requirements for engineering technician, incorporated engineer, or chartered engineer.

You will need to state if professional recognition exists for the occupation.

Where this is the case, the professional body’s or bodies’ requirements for an occupation should be reflected in the occupational standard’s knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) and, for an apprenticeship, any mandated qualifications (where applicable). Trailblazer groups may identify other KSBs that the occupational standard needs to contain beyond those required for professional recognition.  

You need to name the professional body or bodies that have agreed to work with you to develop the apprenticeship.

For an apprenticeship only

Ideally, the professional body or bodies should accept an apprenticeship certificate as evidence the individual has reached a recognised standard of competence they issue. In such cases, the apprenticeship is fully aligned with the professional recognition or status.

In some cases, the professional body or bodies may only recognise the apprenticeship certificate as evidence the individual has reached part of a recognised of competence. In these cases, the apprenticeship is partially aligned with professional recognition or status. That means the individual will need to achieve any additional requirements and provide evidence of them before they are eligible to apply for professional recognition. This may be for example, a certain amount of experience or type of experience. If this is the case, this needs to be stated in the occupational standard.

Occupations where there is a statutory regulator 

To practice in some occupations (professions), it is a legal requirement for individuals to be registered with a statutory regulator. Individuals must meet the requirements of the statutory regulator to work in the occupation. This may be referred to as a ‘license to practice.’

You will need to state if you are developing an occupational standard for an occupation where there is a statutory regulator.  

Where this is the case, the statutory regulator’s requirements for an occupation should be reflected in the occupational standard’s knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) and any qualifications mandated in an apprenticeship (where applicable). Trailblazer groups may identify other KSBs that the occupational needs to contain beyond those required by the regulator.  

You need to name the regulator and confirm that they have agreed to work with you to develop the occupational standard.

You can find additional guidance about developing  occupational standards for occupations where there is a statutory regulator.


Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

You should refer to IfATE’s equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) toolkit when developing your occupation proposal and occupational standard. This will make sure EDI is a consideration in their development. This toolkit forms part of a broader EDI operational framework which is applied to apprenticeships and technical qualifications.

The EDI toolkit provides guidance and information about EDI related matters, such as removing barriers and making apprenticeships more accessible. It explains the steps you will need to follow to ensure EDI is considered when developing your proposal and standard. Your product manager will provide diversity data to support your application of the toolkit. You will also be asked to address some EDI validation questions when submitting your documents for approval.

Last updated 17 March 2023