What are Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours (KSBs)?
There are lots of acronyms when it comes to the world of apprenticeships, and a common one you may have come across is KSBs. This stands for Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours and they are the backbone of Apprenticeship Standards and are what the apprentice will be graded on in their End-Point Assessment (EPA). They represent the core attributes an apprentice must have in order to be competent in the occupation they are working in.
Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours – A Test of Competency
All the KSBs must be met by the apprentice, evidenced and assessed in order to pass their apprenticeship. If they fail just one part of the KSB, they will fail the entire EPA. The old frameworks just required apprentices to provide evidence they had achieved the required qualifications. However, this didn’t prove the learner actually understood the topic or had learned the skill required to perform the role.
It is the role of the Independent End-Point Assessor (IPEA) to test an apprentice’s competence against the KSBs rather than against the duties that they have developed for the job. It is important to identify the KSBs required to undertake each duty, and map each KSB to at least one duty.
Knowledge refers to the technical detail and ‘know-how’ that an apprentice needs to both attain and understand in order to carry out their duties. Think of this as the underpinning knowledge they need to have to perform the role safely and competently. Most of these will be very specific to the occupation the apprentice is hoping to pursue, but some may be far broader such as first aid or health and safety.
This is where the apprentice’s knowledge is applied in a practical manner. Skills will have been learned through both experience, and on-the-job training from a senior member of staff.
One thing to be aware of is that skills shouldn’t be a repetition of the tasks or duties the apprentice carries out. What we mean here is that a duty may be ‘laying bricks’, but the skills will include mixing the mortar.
Behaviours are mainly referring to the mindset that the apprentice has. Do they think in a way that is required for the duties they are expected to carry out? These don’t just have to be instinctive, they can be learnt too.
The great thing about behaviours is that they are transferable, so they may be similar across apprenticeship standards. Knowledge or skills tend to be more specific to a particular apprenticeship. Examples of behaviours include: teamwork, problem-solving, and having a professional attitude.
Finding The Specific KSBs
As we said earlier every apprenticeship standard has KSBs and you will need to know exactly which one you need to cover during the on-program stage of the apprenticeship. These are the same KSBs that the EPA will be grading the apprentice on during their End Point assessment. By doing a search for a particular standard you can quickly see all the KSBs for that standard. Here is the link to the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education website apprenticeship search. You will also find a link to the Assessment Plan. The Assessment Plan shows you how each of these KSBs will be assessed during the End Point Assessment.
Only organisations that are on the register of End-Point Assessment Organisations (EPAO) are allowed to carry out End Point Assessments. The training provider will be involved in arranging the End-Point Assessment, but the assessment itself must be independent.
We would advise contacting the EPAO early in the apprenticeship so you can check what the assessment involves in more detail than that of the Assessment Plan. This will give your apprentice the time to gather evidence that supports they have achieved the relevant KSBs.
Knowledge Skills and Behaviours Examples
If you are totally new to the idea of KSBs here are a few examples from the Uban Driver Standard. This apprenticeship is for drivers who drive a vehicle commercially of over 3.5 tonnes. So this would be anything from a large van upwards usually delivering around towns or cities.
It has 25 Knowledge components, 20 Skills components and 7 Behaviours.
K1: Urban vehicle preparation and maintenance requirements, within limits of own role.
K2: Different types of goods transported by fixed axle vehicles over 3500 kg in weight.
K3: Personal protective equipment selection and use.
K4: The principles of load and weight distribution applicable to fixed axle vehicles over 3500 kg in weight.
S1: Prepare a fixed axle vehicle over 3500 kg in weight for the planned daily workload. This includes the cab, fluid levels, and general inspection.
S2: Monitor charge or fuel level of the vehicle to meet the daily requirements of the urban schedule
S3: Monitor the vehicle for defects.
S4: Co-ordinate own work with others to meet business priorities.
B1: Work flexibly (for example, working alone and in a team as required).
B2: Puts safety first for themselves and others.
B3: Respectful of others.
B4: Takes ownership of own work.
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Steve is a Chartered Manager and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.
He provides Educational Consultancy to the 19+ sector as well as being an Assessor, IQA, EPA and Digital Marketing Professional. When not doing any of these he finds time, every now and then, to write blogs and articles.