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A new rule that puts the power of choosing apprenticeship end-point assessment organisations (EPAO) into the hands of training providers will cause a “race to the bottom” on quality, officials have been warned.

The Department for Education announced this week that from August 1, the register of EPAOs will merge with the register of apprenticeship training providers (RoATP) and be called the “apprenticeship providers and assessment register” (APAR).

Included in the move was a “bombshell” statement, as described by one EPAO, that will make training providers responsible for choosing which organisation should do the end-point assessment for their employers’ apprentices, rather than the employer itself.

Experts told FE Week that providers have always been the main “influencers” when it comes to EPAO selection, although officially it has always been the employers’ choice and they usually pick from a “beauty parade” of offers.

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