Improving Operational Performance (England)

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Framework details

Framework ID: FR03102
Issue number: 11
Issued: 15 October 2014

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Improving Operational Performance (England)
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Contact name: David George
Telephone number: 0845 643 9001
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An Apprenticeship is a job with an accompanying skills development programme designed by employers in the sector. It allows the apprentice to gain technical knowledge and real practical experience, along with functional and personal skills, required for their immediate job and future career. These are acquired through a mix of learning in the workplace, formal off-the-job training and the opportunity to practice and embed new skills in a real work context. This broader mix differentiates the Apprenticeship experience from training delivered to meet narrowly focused job needs.

All apprentices commencing their apprenticeship must have an Apprenticeship Agreement between the employer and apprentice. This can be used to reinforce the understanding of the requirements of the apprenticeship.

On completion of the Apprenticeship the apprentice must be able to undertake the full range of duties, in the range of circumstances appropriate to the job, confidently and competently to the standard set by the industry.

Sector background

Engineering/manufacturing operators working as process, plant and machine operatives (Level 2 roles) account for 14% of total sector employment (approximately 167,000 people) in England and Wales.  6% of employers felt they had skills gaps in their operator workforce.  These were put down to lack of experience, failure to train and develop staff, lack of motivation, and the inability of the workforce to keep up with change.  Within the sector itself, technical, practical and job-specific skills were highlighted as the main skills gaps, with problem solving, team working and general communication skills being secondary.

The age profile of the current workforce presents a recruitment challenge as 11% of operators are aged 60 plus and 10% are aged under 24 years old.  9% of engineering/manufacturing employers have staff undertaking Apprenticeships.  It is anticipated that there will be a net requirement for 4,700 operators (660 per annum) over the period 2010-2016 just to cover retirements.

Many companies questioned are introducing lean manufacturing and continuous improvement techniques in order to improve productivity and competitiveness.  It is essential that these techniques be employed in the face of stiff international competition from places such as China and the Pacific rim who can undercut manufacturing costs in the UK due to lower wage rates.  It is no coincidence that the highest performing companies in the UK are those that train their employees in the latest business improvement techniques.

Between 1998 to 2007 Gross Value Added productivity (GVA) per employee in the engineering sector saw a significant improvement from £35,100 to £51,500 per employee, an increase of 47%.  Similar productivity improvements will be needed in the manufacturing sector to ensure we remain internationally competitive.

The Improving Operational Performance framework, previously known as the Industrial Applications framework, has been available to train apprentices for twelve years and addresses the fundamental skills needs of a wide variety of engineering, manufacturing, assembly and process operators through the provision of two pathways, Performing Engineering Operations (PEO2) and Performing Manufacturing Operations (PMO2).  In 2008/9 there were 1,200 starts on the framework and this seems to be a consistent annual figure. 

The Performing Engineering Operations Level 2 pathway gives apprentices working in engineering a basic all-round grounding in engineering operations and techniques. The competence element is designed to be tailored to operations in any given specific engineering sub-sector.  On completion they will be of semi-skilled status; typical job roles would include metal working operatives, plant and machine operatives, quality control, routine inspection and testing, production of parts using computer controlled equipment and basic maintenance activity.  This pathway will also play an increasingly important role in the short term in providing potential engineering advanced apprentices at Level 3.

The Performing Manufacturing Operations Level 2 pathway focuses on training apprentices to operate effectively in a manufacturing environment.  Typical job roles include assembly operations of electrical and electronic products, vehicles, aerospace, marine, metal goods and production of moulded products.  Other roles include receiving and checking raw materials and sub assemblies, inspection, test and quality control.  

The introduction of a third pathway, Business Improvement Techniques Level 2 (B-IT2), and the title change of the framework provides an industry standard programme centered on the proven tools and techniques of lean process and quality improvement activities.  It is designed to support continuous improvement by promoting effective team working and developing lean skills across the wider workforce.

The B-IT2 NVQ is delivered by high-achieving lean process practitioners and is a down-to-earth, hands-on programme designed for operators in companies that have lean systems in place but are looking to engage the wider workforce in continuous improvement activities.  It teaches them how to identify and eliminate waste, create flow and improve quality leading to greater efficiency and increased profitability.  This programme will be essential in ensuring that UK companies can compete against strong international competition.


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Improving Operational Performance (England)
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