The Federation for Industry Sector Skills and Standards (Federation) (previously known as the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils) is the designated Certifying Authority for Apprenticeships in England. To manage this process the Federation developed a bespoke, online system, known as Apprenticeship Certificates England (ACE).
The ACE system enables apprentices or training providers/employers acting on their behalf, to apply for their Apprenticeship completion certificate. It is a centralised system that meets all of the relevant regulatory and quality assurance requirements of the Apprenticeship certification process. Although the main focus of the system is to certificate Apprenticeships it also aims to reduce the administrative burden of certification and introduce consistency and standardisation across all occupational sectors.
The Federation sits at the centre of a hub and spoke model where it delegates responsibility to individual Certification Bodies (Sector Skills Councils and Standard Setting Bodies) to process Apprenticeship certification claim requests, on its behalf. Each Certification Body has specific sectorial remits and uses its knowledge of its occupational area to review claims and ensure that the evidence provided meets the specified framework requirements being claimed for. The Federation’s Apprenticeship Customer Support Team oversees and manages the entire process, and produces guidance and supporting documentation for both Certification Bodies and certificate claimants.
ACE can be used for more than just requesting completion certificates. ACE centres are encouraged to input apprentice details on to the system at an early stage of the apprentices’ training and upload the required evidence of their achievements as they progress through the Apprenticeship programme. By adopting this process and analysing completions, the ACE team can collate current Labour Market Information and regular statistics relating to the uptake and success rates for Apprenticeships. This information can then be analysed in detail by sector, gender, age, ethnicity and geographical spread.
The ACE Team constantly investigates ways to enhance the functionality of its system to meet the current and future needs of all users. It works closely with other agencies involved in the Apprenticeship process to facilitate greater system integration and information sharing to streamline and further simplify the certification process.