Apprenticeship toolkit

Exemplar: The paperless apprenticeship journey

The Real Apprenticeship Company (TRAC) has embraced digital to the extent that apprentices working for them experience a journey that is 100 per cent paperless.

In 2011 existing systems were struggling to cope with the growth in numbers. TRAC found available recruitment systems ‘clunky’ so they set out to design their own. An experienced developmental task force was established which included staff and Awarding Organisations (AOs).

The goal was to design a system whereby data is entered once and follows the apprentice throughout their journey. The result is an end-to-end web portal called The Real Academy that collates every aspect of apprentice, employer and programme data for funding, inspection and programme requirements.

The Real Academy system starts collecting personal data when an apprentice applies for a vacancy, TRAC staff complete the individualised learner record (ILR) data when the apprentice is taken on and details of the learning to be undertaken to meet the standard are populated automatically. After a paperless induction, apprentices go on programme learning as is set out in their digital individual learning plan (ILP).

The system drives dashboards that apprentices, managers and employers can view of apprentices’ progress in both time and achievement through the programmes. All employers receive training in how to use the system? and have profiled access to The Real Academy. OFSTED rated TRAC ‘Outstanding’ for employer engagement in 2015.

The portal can be used off line and then synced online. This supports apprentices that work in environments that don’t have, or don’t allow, web access.

Reflection on the experience of building The Real Academy

While The Real Academy is a great achievement the downside was the upfront investment required to build the system and the ongoing responsibility for all updating. Debbie Shandley, Chief Executive of TRAC, is delighted with how it works but feels that, if faced with the same situation in the future, it would be more cost-effective to seek an off-the-shelf system that met 80 percent plus of the company’s needs.