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What are the knowledge, skills and behaviours in an apprenticeship and why are they important?

Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours (or KSBs for short) are the core attributes an apprentice must have in order to demonstrate competence in the role they are working in. They have been identified by employers as essential and are an integral part of every apprenticeship standard. This article explores the significance of KSBs and describes how they impact End Point Assessment.

A compass pointing north with the word 'apprenticeship' several times around the outside
What are knowledge, skills and behaviours and why are they important when doing an apprenticeship?

How does an apprentice develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours required?

Every apprenticeship standard includes a number of core attributes, known as knowledge, skills and behaviours. As the learner progresses through their training, they are expected to develop these KSBs through a mix of activities carried out both on and off the job.

  1. Knowledge – 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 generic.

  2. Skills – the practical application of knowledge needed to successfully undertake the duties. They are learnt through on and / or off-the-job training or experience.

  3. Behaviours - 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.

At the end of the apprenticeship, the learner will need to demonstrate that they have developed all of the knowledge, skills and behaviours (and every apprenticeship standard includes a list of these KSBs) in order to be awarded the qualification.

How is the apprentice’s attainment of the knowledge, skills and behaviours assessed?

When the apprentice has completed the training, they will undergo an End Point Assessment (EPA) with an End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO). The purpose of this is to test the learners understanding of and competency against the KSBs.

It is therefore vital that the learner gets the right experience in the workplace to support attainment of these core attributes. After all, there would be no use a learner doing a level 3 apprenticeship in Business Administration if on a daily basis they are performing the role of a Butcher. In this scenario the apprentice simply wouldn’t get the right practical experience to support their learning.

Each EPAO will have their own process and methods for assessment – these can include observations, practical and written tests as well as interviews and professional discussions, but essentially every EPAO will be looking for evidence that the learner understands and is competent against each of the KSBs.

How do KSBs impact End Point Assessment?

A learner is only ready for EPA once they have completed the period of practical training and can demonstrate that they have a deep understanding of and are competent in each of the KSBs. The training provider, the employer and the learner should all agree that the learner is ready, before taking the decision to put the learner forward for EPA.

There are two simple ways that a learner can demonstrate and document what they learn over the course of their apprenticeship – both on and off-the-job:

  1. By keeping a journal and recording the number of hours spent learning, what they have learned and how this has helped them in their job role; and

  2. By completing a number of activities set for them by the training provider and / or the employer that demonstrate competence and understanding against each of the KSBs of the apprenticeship.

Both of these things will enable the learner to see the progress they are making and how close they are to completing their apprenticeship. They can also form part of the pack of evidence that is sent to the EPAO when the apprentice is ready for End Point Assessment.

Remember, a learner who is put forward for EPA too early risks failing the qualification!


Rubitek Core features an e-portfolio that tracks learner attainment against each of the KSBs, and shows you when they are ready for EPA!

Rubitek Core is a complete, cloud-based apprenticeship management platform.

It features an e-portfolio that tracks the attainment of every KSB in real-time against learner evidence submissions and shows you where every learner is in their learning journey. It also features a learner journal where apprentices can record details of time spent learning and map these against the 20% off-the-job requirements.

With Rubitek Core, employers, providers and learners can together make intelligent decisions about when a learner is ready for End Point Assessment, reducing the number of costly EPA retakes and increasing the likelihood of achievement first time.

To find out more about Rubitek Core and how it can be used to track and evidence your learner KSBs,

get in touch or email or call us on 0330 133 0540.

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