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.
Occupational standards are developed by employers for occupations that meet IfATE’s current occupation criteria.
Along with an end-point assessment plan (EPA) and funding band, the occupational standard is a component part of an apprenticeship.
However, occupational standards are not just component parts of apprenticeships but are also used in the development of T Levels, and underpin other IfATE-approved technical qualifications. This means that occupational standards can form the basis of an apprenticeship, or a technical qualification (or both) and they should be developed with that in mind.
In January 2021, the government published a white paper entitled, ‘Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity.’ This paper outlined the intention that the future of the technical education system will be based on employer needs with the substantial majority of post-16 technical and higher technical education and training aligned to occupational standards, set by IfATE and developed and approved by employers.
This system will lead to a common set of employer-led standards that define the content of technical courses, qualifications, and apprenticeships.
As well as being a key part of an apprenticeship, occupational standards are also important in T Levels. T Levels are two-year, technical qualifications at level 3, designed by employers to give students the knowledge and skills that the industry needs. The technical qualification (TQ) element of a T Level is based on existing, approved occupational standards.
Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) are level 4 or 5 qualifications that have been quality marked by IfATE to indicate their alignment to employer-led occupational standards. HTQs align to existing occupational standards and allow learners to enter their chosen profession or progress onto higher education.
The occupational maps will be the cornerstone of these reforms. To deliver on the ambition of the white paper the scope of the maps is being extended to set out all occupations that can be accessed through technical education provision and the associated technical education options that enable access into these occupations.
Occupational standards are developed by employers for occupations that meet IfATE's current occupation criteria.
An occupational standard describes an occupation and should:
Occupational standards are used by:
An occupational standard should contain an occupational profile, list of duties and the KSBs needed for someone to be competent in the occupation’s duties.
An occupational summary or profile is an overview of the occupation and describes the sector or industries the occupation is typically found in; the broad purpose of the occupation; and what an employee in the occupation would typically do.
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. They are what you would find listed in a job description.
An occupational summary or profile should list around 10 to 20 duties.
An occupational standard sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) required to be competent in the occupation profile’s duties.
The information, technical detail, and ‘know-how’ that someone needs to have and understand to successfully carry out the duties. Some knowledge will be occupation-specific, whereas some may be more generic.
The practical application of knowledge needed to successfully undertake the duties. They are learnt through training or experience.
Mindsets, attitudes or approaches needed for competence. Whilst these can be innate or instinctive, they can also be learnt. Behaviours tend to be very transferable. They may be more similar across occupations than knowledge and skills. For example, team worker, adaptable and professional.
Occupational standards typically have: