The Future of Improvement – Learn More

Level 4 – Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviours.

All apprentices must take an independent assessment at the end of their training to confirm that they have achieved occupational competence. Rigorous, robust and independent end-point assessment (EPA) is essential to give employers confidence that apprentices completing an apprenticeship standard can actually perform in the occupation they have been trained in and can demonstrate the duties, knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) set out in the occupational standard.

View Standard on Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education
Level 4 – Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviours.- image - 2

What are they?

Improvement Practitioners have the Knowledge and understanding of:

  • Compliance: Legislative and customer compliance requirements including health and safety
  • Team formation & leadership: Decision-making techniques e.g. consensus, authority rule, majority rule
  • Project management: Business case, risk analysis and management, toll-gate reviews, work breakdown structure, lessons learned, pilot studies, project review, process management and measures, benefits tracking
  • Presentation & reporting: Reporting templates, message mapping, case for change
  • Change management: Stakeholder identification, analysis and management (RACI). Change curve, resistance characteristics, change sponsorship, compelling point of view
  • Principles & methods: Business value of Lean and Six Sigma improvement methods – 8D, practical problem solving, Define Measure Analyse Improve Control, Design for Six Sigma
  • Project selection & scope: Y=f(x) equation (outputs are the result of inputs), business scorecard cascade
  • Problem definition: Cost of Poor Quality, problem analysis models such as Is/Is Not
  • Process mapping & analysis: Swim lane, value stream map, performance metrics – continuous, Parameter diagram, Takt time, Overall Equipment Effectiveness, theory of constraints principles, Kanban
  • Data analysis – basic tools: Spreadsheets and pivot table analysis, statistical analysis software
  • Measurement systems: Repeatability and Reproducibility principles
  • Basic statistics & measures: Control charts – attribute data, principles of normality
  • Data analysis – statistical methods: Measures of central tendency and spread
  • Process capability & performance: Capability analysis – continuous data for normal distribution
  • Root cause analysis: Key principles including symptoms, failure-mode, potential/verified cause, critical inputs, escape point. Graphical representation of data with dot, scatter and box plots
  • Experimentation: Active versus passive analytics, design of experiments, experiment plan
  • Identification & prioritisation: Selection and prioritisation matrix, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis


Improvement Practitioners have the Skills within the context of their own organisation to:

  • Compliance: Work in accordance with organisational controls and statutory regulations
  • Communication: Speak and write clearly. Influence others, question effectively. Plan and deliver meetings presenting insight to engage audiences
  • Coaching: Observe, listen, use questioning, provide feedback and spot learning opportunities
  • Project management: Define, sequence, plan and schedule activities with phases and milestones. Estimate effort and duration. Create and update project charter. Review progress
  • Change management: Sponsorship contract, surface and manage resistance, build compelling narratives for change, assess change impact
  • Principals and Methods: Select and apply a structured method and appropriate improvement tools engaging with subject matter experts to deliver business benefits
  • Project selection and Scoping: Support the identification of improvement opportunity and the scoping of these projects
  • Problem definition: Support development of problem/opportunity statements
  • Voice of the customer: Support application of techniques to identify and prioritise customers, their requirements and ensure balance against the stated and unstated needs of the business (Voice of the Business)
  • Process mapping & analysis: Process map to measure and analyse flow and value. Identify interfaces, functional responsibilities and ownership. Use insight to identify potential opportunities and map future state
  • Lean tools: Seek in-process waste through understanding of value within the value stream
  • Measurements systems: Plan, carry out and assess results of a measurement system study
  • Data acquisition for analysis: Develop a sampling strategy
  • Basic statistics & measures: Use graphical analysis to understand distribution and stability
  • Data analysis-statistical methods: Identify data-types and select analysis methods and tools. Assess time series data stability and analyse making relevant insight
  • Process capability & performance: Select methods and metrics for analysis
  • Root cause analysis: Select and apply the appropriate graphical tool dependent on the data type to identify patterns, trends and signals to establish hypothesis
  • Experimentation & optimisation: Plan designed experiment with clear objectives, and appropriate levels of Measurement Systems Analysis, analyse experiment data and optimise
  • Identification & prioritisation: Identify and prioritise factors, ideas and solutions
  • Data analysis – SPC: Select and apply appropriate tools for ongoing monitoring and control. Analyse and interpret control charts
  • Benchmarking: Conduct structured benchmarking to support target setting
  • Sustainability & control: Identify failure modes and embed learning from improvements


Improvement Practitioners demonstrate the following Behaviours:

  • Drive for results: Continuous drive for change and encourages others to deliver results across functional areas capturing and standardising best practice
  • Team-working: Awareness of own and others’ working styles. Creates high performing team
  • Professionalism: Promotes a moral, legal and socially appropriate working manner, aligns behaviours to the organisations values. Maintains flexibility to needs of project
  • Continuous development: Proactively seeks and acts on feedback. Reflects on performance and has a desire for development. Adapts quickly to working with new situations/stakeholders/challenges
  • Safe working: Ensures safety of self and others, speaks out to challenge safety issues

How are they assessed at EPA?

For full, in detail criteria of all parts of the assessment and each KSB (including Fail/Pass/Merit/Distinction criteria), please see:

In order to achieve Merit / Distinction in your Project Report and Professional Discussion, it requires the delegate to demonstrate specific criteria that is detailed in the link above or below this table.

Area # Criteria Exam Project Report Professional Discussion
Knowledge K1 Compliance X
K2 Team formation and Leadership X X
K3 Project management X
K4 Presentation and Reporting X
K5 Change Management X
K6 Principles and Methods X
K7 Project Selection and Scope X
K8 Problem definition X
K9 Process mapping and Analysis X
K10 Data Analysis X
K11 Measurement systems X
K12 Basic Statistics and measures X
K13 Data analysis – statistical methods X
K14 Process capability and Performance X
K15 Root cause analysis X
K16 Experimentation X
K17 Identification and prioritisation X
Skills S1 Compliance X
S2 Communication X
S3 Coaching X
S4 Project management X X
S5 Change management X X
S6 Principles and Methods X
S7 Problem Selection and Scoping X
S8 Problem Definition X
S9 Voice of the Customer X
S10 Process Mapping and Analysis X
S11 Lean Tools X
S12 Measurement Systems X
S13 Data Acquisition for Analysis X
S14 Basic Statistics and Measures X
S15 Data Analysis – Statistical Methods X
S16 Process capability and performance X
S17 Root Cause Analysis X
S18 Experimentation and Optimisation X X
S19 Identification & Prioritisation X
S20 Data Analysis – SPC X
S21 Benchmarking X
S22 Sustainability & Control X
Behaviours B1 Drive for results X
B2 Team-working X
B3 Professionalism X
B4 Continuous Development X
B5 Safe Working X
Level 4 – Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviours.- image - 4

Project Report – Fail Criteria

The apprentice will be deemed as a ‘fail’ for the project report element if the criteria for ‘Pass’ grade are not met, specifically the apprentice will fail should they meet any one or more of the criteria below:-

  • Not submit their project report to the EPAO within one month following the gateway
  • Not provide a statement signed by their employer authenticating the project report and presentation and confirming business benefits associated with the improvement project
  • Not demonstrate their role in setting-up and leading others in an improvement team (i.e. worked alone without communication and consultation throughout the project)
  •  Fail to address a substantive business problem/opportunity in the workplace
  •  Are unable to demonstrate that sustainable business benefits have been delivered into the business as a result of any project(s) carried out
  • Not demonstrate that they have applied a recognised methodology (e.g. PPS, DMAIC, 8D)
  • Not correctly applied and/or interpreted Lean, Six Sigma, Project and Change Management tools
  • Fail to demonstrate data-backed decision making to support definition, measurement, analysis and improvement or equivalent phases of the recognised methodology being applied.
  • Not present the project using a concise, visual format
  • Not demonstrate holistically through the project report, presentation and questioning, their knowledge and skills as set out in Annex 3 and as detailed in the L4 standard


Project Report – Pass Criteria

Apprentices must demonstrate all the following criteria for a Pass: 

1. Prepare, submit and present a project report to agreed timescales that details one improvement project. The project must: 

  • Show business benefit to the apprentice’s employer (S22) 
  • Follow the steps of a recognised Problem-Solving methodology (e.g. PPS, DMAIC, 8D) with a clear flow from one step to another and supported by the application/interpretation of appropriate Lean, Six Sigma and Change Management tools (S1, S4, S5, S6, S7, S8, S9, S10, S11, S19, S22) 
  • Demonstrate data-backed decision-making to support definition, measurement, analysis and improvement (S12, S13, S14, S15, S16, S17, S18, S20) 

2. Present the project using a concise, visual format and include: 

  • Explanation of how they chose and scoped the project (S7)
  • How they used each tool (S6) 
  • How they led a cross-functional team during the project (K2, K4) 


Project Report – Merit & Distinction Criteria

In order to obtain a Merit, the delegate must satisfy all pass criteria (related to KSBs above) and satisfy both of the below:

  1. Clearly explains how the outputs of each tool are used to inform the next step.
  2. Identifies and takes the opportunity to share and/or replicate the improvements made to one other area / system where there are differences in the solutions/controls required to deliver successful outcomes.

In order to obtain a Distinction, the delegate must satisfy all pass and merit criteria and satisfy both of the below:

  1. Identifies and takes the opportunity to share and/or replicate the improvements made to one other area / system where there are differences in baseline metrics.
  2. Seeks opportunities to apply Lean, Six Sigma, Project and Change Management tools in daily work.


Professional Discussion – Fail Criteria

 The apprentice will be deemed as a ‘fail’ for the professional discussion element if the criteria for ‘Pass’ grade are not met, specifically the apprentice will fail should they meet any one or more of the criteria below:-

  • Not submit their CPD log to the EPAO within one month following the gateway
  • Not demonstrate holistically, their knowledge skills and behaviours as set out in Annex 3 and as detailed in the L4 standard
  • Not explained how they involved others in decision making and how they influenced others
  • Not clearly planed the management of the project and the management of change


Professional Discussion – Pass Criteria

1. Provide evidence of their behaviours as detailed in the L4 standard (B1, B2, B3, B4, B5)

2. Clearly explain:

  • Methods used for making decisions in the project team (K2)
  • How they engaged and influenced others (S2)
  • Their coaching skills as set out in the L4 standard (S3)
  • Their approach to Project Managament (S4)
  • Their approach to Change Management (S5)
  • Their approach, results and learning relating to developing skills in Experimentation and Optimisation as set out in the L4 standard (S18)
  • Their use of benchmarking to inform target setting and improvement options (S21)

3. Critically evaluates their improvement journey and identifies recommendations for improvement/change (e.g. “If I were to do this again I would…”) (B4)

Professional Discussion – Merit & Distinction Criteria

In order to obtain a Merit, the delegate must satisfy all pass criteria (related to KSBs above) and satisfy both of the below:

  1. Identifies opportunities for cross-functional improvement.
  2. Supports delivery of business-wide improvement projects led by Improvement Experts.

In order to obtain a Distinction, the delegate must satisfy all pass and merit criteria and satisfy both of the below:

  1. Takes the opportunity to prepare and/or deliver training to upskill colleagues.
  2. Seeks opportunities to involve others in building a Continuous Improvement culture.


Multiple Choice Examination (maximum obtainable = 40 marks)

  • Fail Criteria – Less than 25 marks
  • Pass Criteria – 25 to 29 marks
  • Merit Criteria – 30 to 35 marks
  • Distinction Criteria – 36 marks or greater 

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