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Cabinet Reshuffle Should Reinstate Minister of State for Skills, Apprenticeships and Further Education

The FAB Chair, Paul Eeles, has written to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, calling on him to use his next Cabinet reshuffle to reinstate a Minister of State for Skills, Apprenticeships and Further Education:

Paul Eeles, Chair od The Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB)

I wanted to underline the Federation of Awarding Bodies support for your ambition of the United Kingdom becoming a world leader in education and science, particularly as we leave the European Union.

Our members – awarding bodies and examination boards – already provide millions of learners in the UK and overseas with the qualifications and skills to succeed. Ultimately, the work of our members is about growing the human capital potential of the whole country – north, south, east and west.

A significant number of our members also successfully help to export the British brand of education and well respected qualifications overseas. In many ways, we are world-leaders already.

As you contemplate a government reshuffle and potentially make some machinery of government changes, there are some matters I wanted to raise with you directly.

The first thing I wanted to highlight is how impressed we have been with the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, and the fact he has been one of the most engaged cabinet ministers, particularly in relation to improving technical and further education.

That said, one of the casualties of your last reshuffle was to remove the Minister of State post for Skills and Apprenticeships from the Department for Education. In practice, however, this has meant the further education sector has lost a daily champion and reformer with whom we could effectively engage. This is in stark contrast to schools and universities who do have dedicated ministers.

Given your renewed focus, as a Government, in ensuring that the economic and social opportunities of the nation are developed more evenly across the country, can I encourage you to appoint a dedicated minister with a laser like brief, who is ruthlessly focussed on improving productivity, apprenticeships, skills and FE? 

As you are aware, the UK has a major productivity gap with other G7 countries. Social mobility has stalled in recent years. And in England, we are facing a real challenge to ensure programmes like the Apprenticeship Levy are meeting the needs of employers and young people. 

The resumption of a dedicated FE minister would really help to take your ambitious agenda forward.

Paul Eeles, Chair od The Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB)

Thousands of SMEs Denied Chance to Recruit Apprentices
January 16, 2020
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The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has found training providers are having to turn away smaller businesses seeking to recruit apprentices.

Image result for AELP

A growing shortage of funding from the £2.8 billion apprenticeship levy has been attributed to the shortfall in support for SMEs. The AELP found that, on average, apprenticeship providers are turning down approaches from 40 SMEs each.

The research also revealed that 29% of providers with a government contract to train apprentices for SMEs have reduced recruitment. According to the AELP 39% of these providers have stopped or significantly reduced recruitment. 

AELP chief executive Mark Dawe told HR magazine: “What’s doubly frustrating about the restriction on the number of new apprenticeship opportunities available is that the government has just issued official data showing that nine out of 10 apprentices stay in sustained employment and many of them who progress end up earning very good wages. 

“As Downing Street and the chancellor have issued a mandate to ministers to concentrate spending money on what actually works, what further evidence does the government need to invest more in apprenticeships? 

“The fact that the levy is running short of funding shows how popular apprenticeships are and that the levy should be kept. But it’s totally unacceptable for both small businesses and young people that so many of them can’t start apprenticeships because of failures in how the levy funding system works, and this is why it needs reform.” 

One suggestion for reform is a restoration of the £1.5 billion apprenticeship budget that was available to SMEs before the levy was introduced in April 2017. The AELP has also proposed an increase in the levy. 

Dawe added: “Brexit requires us to meet employers’ skills needs by training more home-grown talent, but many training providers have given up ‘selling’ apprenticeships to SMEs when the lack of funding means that there’s no point in doing so. In the meantime there’s a big government advertising campaign telling employers that support is still available. 

“The prime minister promised in July that he would ‘properly fund’ apprenticeships and the education secretary has said that the programme’s funding would be a matter for the Spending Review. As the clock ticks thousands of young people are hearing about the success stories of their peers who have been on an apprenticeship and they can’t understand why the same opportunities aren’t available for them.”

ESFA Update: 15 January 2020

Latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers.

Documents

ESFA Update further education: 15 January 2020

ESFA Update academies: 15 January 2020

ESFA Update local authorities: 15 January 2020

Details
Items for further education
Actionadult education budget (AEB) devolution, learner eligibility using postcode data
Informationhow to express an interest to deliver T Levels from 2022 to 2023
Informationthe apprenticeship service is now open for small and medium employers
Informationthe apprenticeship technical funding guide has been updated
Informationqualification achievement rates (QAR)
Informationthe next stage of the Fire It Up apprenticeships campaign is now live
Informationconsultation on lifting the inspection exemption for outstanding schools, colleges and other organisations
Your feedbackwe would welcome your feedback on a new online form to report extremism concerns
Items for academies
Reminderthe academies accounts return deadline is Monday 20 January 2020
Informationacademy allocation statements timeline
Informationhow to express an interest to deliver T Levels from 2022 to 2023
Informationfunding for professional development for governors, trustees and trust board clerks
Informationconsultation on lifting the inspection exemption for outstanding schools, colleges and other organisations
InformationQuality in Careers Standard events
Your feedbackwe would welcome your feedback on a new online form to report extremism concerns
Items for local authorities
Actionadult education budget (AEB) devolution, learner eligibility using postcode data
Informationhow to express an interest to deliver T Levels from 2022 to 2023
Informationqualification achievement rates (QAR)
Informationconsultation on lifting the inspection exemption for outstanding schools, colleges and other organisations
Informationthe apprenticeship technical funding guide has been updated
InformationQuality in Careers Standard events
Your feedbackwe would welcome your feedback on a new online form to report extremism concerns

Published 15 January 2020