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Coronavirus: 9 Key Points from the Government’s Apprenticeships Guidance
March 24, 2020
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The government has released a package of measures that it hopes will help apprenticeship training providers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It also applies to apprentices, employers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance providers.

Here are the key points from the guidance:

1. No funding support

The government appears to offer no funding support for apprenticeship training providers during the crisis.

Its guidance says providers will only continue to be paid “retrospectively for the training they have delivered and can evidence”.

Government policy “does not allow payment for services in advance of delivery,” it claimed.

The ESFA added that it “reserves the right to recover funding which was claimed for and paid to the training provider, but for which the training provider was found not to be eligible”.

2. Face-to-face end-point assessments can be rescheduled or ‘modified’

End-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance providers are encouraged to engage and agree where remote assessment can replace face-to-face assessment, or where a simulated environment is to be used.

Apprentices who are deemed ready for assessment, and cannot be assessed due to COVID-19 related issues, will be able to have their EPA rescheduled. Where there is a “specified time limit for EPA post gateway”, a further pause of 12 weeks is allowable.

Apprentices whose gateway is being delayed are allowed a break in learning, with an extension to the assessment timeframe.

3. Breaks in learning rule softened – but providers still won’t be paid

Funding rules currently state that a break in learning must be initiated by the apprentice.

The government will now allow employers and training providers, temporarily, to also report and initiate a break in learning where the interruption is greater than four weeks.

Training providers will not receive payments for learners who are on breaks in learning.

4. Go to Treasury if you’re struggling financially

The guidance states that where the COVID-19 outbreak results in loss of income due to ceased or reduced delivery of training, training providers “should consider their eligibility and apply for the wide range of financial support that HM Treasury has already announced for businesses”.

5. Apprentices made redundant to find a new employer within 12 weeks

Where apprentices are furloughed (granted a leave of absence) or placed on unpaid leave, employers and training providers have been urged to consider whether a break in learning would be appropriate.

Where apprentices are made redundant, it is the DfE’s ambition that they will be supported to find alternative employment, and continue their apprenticeship within 12 weeks.

The training provider “must support the apprentice to find another employer” where redundancies take place.

In instances where a significant number of apprentices are made redundant, the ESFA said it will attempt to provide “exceptional practical support to the apprentices and training providers to secure alternative employers for the individuals”.

6. ‘Distance learning’ encouraged

The government is “encouraging and supporting employers, and training and assessment providers, to make use of distance-learning tools wherever possible and practicable to do so”.

7. Arrangements for disrupted training delivery in March

Where training has been delivered this month, but a break in learning has begun, or is expected to start before the end of March, to ensure payment for these apprentices, training providers have been told to:

    include these learners in their March ILR submission as on programme

    record, retain and submit evidence in the usual way

    record a break in learning in their April ILR submission

    ensure that these learners are not recorded as permanently withdrawn from their apprenticeship, by entering the ‘Completion status’ field of the ILR as ‘6’, denoting that the learner has temporarily withdrawn from learning due to an agreed break in learning

The DfE makes clear that training, which cannot be delivered in March, but for which the training provider receives payment, should be delivered within the “remainder of the apprenticeship, and the previously agreed total cost of the apprenticeship, before the planned end-date”.

Where the training is not completed, the ESFA “reserves the right to recover payment”.

8. Employers urged not to pause or stop payments to providers for March

During March, levy-paying employers “should not use the apprenticeship service to ‘pause’ or ‘stop’ payments to the training provider, where some training has been delivered in March”, the DfE says.

Doing so will result in the training provider not receiving any payment for these apprentices.

9. Arrangements for April and beyond

For a break in learning greater than four weeks that begins on or after 1 April, the apprenticeship should be ‘paused’ by the employer through the apprenticeship service at the point the break in learning begins.

The employer should “not ‘stop’ the apprenticeship through the apprenticeship service as this will prevent it resuming subsequently”.Previous

Which? University – Applying For an Apprenticeship: What Students Need to Know
January 22, 2020
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Find out how you can support students to apply for a work-based option after A-levels. Do you have students applying for a work-based option post sixth form? Learn how you can support them fully along the way…

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Understanding what’s on offer

It’s easy to be confused by the details for the various work-based options for sixth form leavers. Here’s a quick round-up:

Apprenticeships

Apprentices are employed by companies and spend around 80% of their time at work and 20% studying.

There are different levels of apprenticeship, with schemes lasting a minimum of a year and up to five or six years for some degree apprenticeships. To find out more about the benefits, download and share our free guide to higher and degree apprenticeships.

Watch now: What are degree apprenticeships?

Sponsored degrees

Sponsored degrees share some characteristics with degree apprenticeships but there can be significant differences; notably, those on sponsored degrees don’t have to be employed by the sponsoring company. 

In addition, the specific package on offer can vary from employer to employer: full-time study or part-time study; bursary, salary or course fees paid. Our free guide to sponsored degrees explains more about this route and the different options.

School-leaver schemes

There are school-leaver schemes too, which are typically run by employers. These offer professional qualifications rather than academic ones. Such schemes are quite common in finance, professional services and retail management.

To confuse matters, you’ll find the different terms used interchangeably. Students should focus on the detail of their chosen scheme to ensure they know exactly what they’re getting.

Top tip

  • Students can apply for both university and work-related schemes if they want to keep options open.
Finding the right option

Applicants to all programmes will need to balance work and study, show that they’re ready for the workplace and consider how they’ll adjust to longer hours and shorter holidays than those at university.

When deciding which is right for them, students should consider:

  • How time will be split between work and study
  • What qualifications are on offer? 
  • How long is the scheme?
  • Will they be paid? 
  • Will they be employed?
  • Who will pay for any course fees?
  • What happens after the scheme?

We’ve devised some quick classroom activities to help students find out more about how apprenticeships work and how one compares to going to university.

What’s the Apprenticeship Levy? The term ‘apprenticeship’ is protected in law with standards developed by groups of employers. From April 2017, larger employers have to pay into a fund which can then be spent on apprenticeship training.

The Levy is part of the Government’s plan to increase the quality and quantity of apprenticeships and it is hoped that this and other changes will contribute to greater availability and awareness of this route.

Applying for an apprenticeship: a two-year timeline

Each company offering an apprenticeship has its own application process and timescale, so Key Stage 5 students will need to be on the ball to avoid missing out.

Year 12

Research
Students should start to look at what might be on offer the following year.  

They should make a note of any schemes that interest them, recording application deadlines and looking at ways to contact the organisations and find out more about them.

Vacancies can be found on the following websites: Find an ApprenticeshipUcas CareerfinderAll About School LeaversNot Going To UniAll About Apprenticeships and Milkround School Leavers.

Top tips

  • For most schemes, students will apply directly to the employer. 
  • Encourage your students to check start dates closely, as some opportunities begin before the end of the school year. Ucas Careerfinder features a handy start-date filter to avoid this pitfall.
  • Suggest they follow companies on social media for the latest news on recruitment; they could even make contact with employers this way.
  • Students should also search websites of local employers and local universities for relevant opportunities.

Experience
Some of the most competitive schemes receive hundreds of applications per place, with employers looking for the full package of qualifications, skills and experience.

Students should look out for summer schools, site visits and insight days to build experience and knowledge, and test out ideas about jobs.

Deadlines for some summer schools fall as early as January, but insight days don’t tend to be booked quite so far in advance. Information on these events can be found on some of the websites listed above. 

Making early contact with a specific company before applying can pay off. Experience in all forms can be beneficial. Volunteering, part-time work, specific hobbies and interests or helping out family and friends might be relevant too.

Year 13

Preparation
Students could start by writing a job-focused personal statement which highlights their selling points and relevant skills, but is also backed up with evidence. Remember this will be different to a Ucas personal statement (likely to be more subject-led) and can be adapted and targeted later to suit the needs of a specific vacancy.

Students would benefit from preparing a CV, using it as an exercise to identify what might give them the edge. Now might be a good time to have a mock interview or to ask a professional to check over CVs or sample statements.

Top tip

  • Most post-A-level programmes ask for at least two A-levels at grade C, with some demanding three of the highest grades. 
Application time

One of the challenges of work-based schemes is that there is no fixed application time or method of applying. Students will need to keep looking and applying from autumn onwards to make sure they don’t miss out. 

Registering with and regularly checking the websites listed above should help. This is where the research carried out in Year 12 should pay off too, as students will have an idea of the types of vacancies that might be coming up, and when. 

The recruitment processes of large firms can be very similar to graduate recruitment, involving online assessments, online interviews, presentations, recruitment centres and so on. Smaller firms might follow a less structured process, including recruiting later on in the year.

Top tip

  • A bit of creative research into a company really helps when targeting an application.
Download
Higher and degree apprenticeships guide
Higher and degree apprenticeships guide

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ViewPoint: Apprenticeship Levy Needs ‘Shake Up’ to Serve Businesses and Communities
January 20, 2020
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Two of the UK’s leading figures in Technical Education and Skills are calling for a radical shake-up of the Apprenticeship Levy System so it better serves both businesses and their communities. Contributor Neil Bates, Chair of The Edge Foundation and John Baumback, Managing Director – Seetec.

John Baumback, started his career as an apprentice with Seetec and is now Group MD: “We know that most large businesses understand their corporate responsibilities, and many have ambitious CSR programmes to support communities, schools and good causes. 

“My idea is simple, rather than unspent levy being given back to HM Treasury, businesses should be able to use these funds to support educational programmes in their local communities. There are many examples of businesses like Investec, JLR, Greggs, Ford, UBS and BP who invest in education and in young people. It makes good business sense to do so because these young people are the workforce of the future.” 

The call for more flexibility is supported by CBI Deputy Director, Josh Hardie, who last year highlighted the case of a large insurer which runs an apprenticeship programme, internships, traineeships and work placements, but none are Levy-compliant due to the inflexibility of the scheme.

Unintended Consequences
In the first six months of the levy in 2017, apprenticeship starts fell off a cliff, plummeting by 40 percent on the previous year. In the Levy’s first full year, employers used just 15 percent of the £3.9 billion pot. While this rose to 22 percent by January 2019, this still amounted to some £300m a month of unspent levy being taken back by HM Treasury. 

A survey of employers for People Management highlighted that, of those that planned to use the levy, 35 percent planned to use it on MBA or management training.  Bates says while there is nothing wrong with genuine apprenticeships for older workers, there is little evidence of funding being used to encourage more school leavers to secure a high-quality apprenticeship.

He believes the absence of an early talent pipeline will impact on UK businesses in a post-Brexit world where technical skills will be at a premium. An Edge Foundation report highlights that two-thirds of UK apprentice starts are conversions of existing workers over the age of 25. In Germany and Austria, 35 percent of all post-secondary school students are on an apprenticeship, in the UK it is just 4 percent. Bates says the low numbers of 16-18 year olds starting on high-quality advanced apprenticeships, particularly in STEM subjects, is a fundamental weakness in the UK skills system. 

The Levy is Not Enough
Baumback stresses that the best UK employers understand the need for a skills strategy to ensure a pipeline of talent to compete in a global market. Most also have a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy linking the business to the local community and the education system to ensure that growth is inclusive.

Baumback and Bates argue that the best way to achieve long-term employer buy-in is to link these strategies. Allowing levy funds to be used for educational CSR initiatives would make a compelling business and social case.  

Building Lasting Partnerships
A strong example is Ford’s Next Generation Learning (NGL) programme, recently introduced into the UK in partnership with the Edge Foundation, North East LEP and local schools.

The aims are to strengthen the talent pipeline, prepare young people for college, careers, lifelong learning and leadership, achieve educational equity and increase community prosperity. According to Bates and Baumback, this is one of many examples of large employers engaging with their local communities and building links between schools and employers. 

Bates cites Basildon, which grew up around the automotive industry in the 1960s, as an example of a community which could benefit from this approach. While technological change has transformed the town into an advanced engineering powerhouse, with highly-skilled, well-paid jobs, he argues the local education system has not kept pace.

“The consequence is that many residents do not have the education and skills needed to access these well-paid jobs. Young people, especially, are not sharing in this success. We need to make growth inclusive and allowing big business to use their levy to invest in the community benefits everyone”. 

Bates and Baumback say this would make the levy a force for good, fostering partnerships between large employers, local authorities, schools and communities. It would build on regional skills devolution, shifting control of policy and resources away from central government and into the hands of those that will benefit from it. 

This would be a logical next step in the reform of apprenticeships and technical education, they conclude. They are urging business groups to campaign for more flexibility, while developing a strategy to use the levy more productively.

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.”

Warning Over ‘Fake’ Apprenticeship Courses
January 3, 2020
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Half of apprenticeship courses in England have been accused of being “fake” by an education think tank reports Sean Coughlan, BBC News family and education correspondent.

The EDSK report says the apprenticeship levy – paid by big employers – is being used on low-skilled jobs or relabelling existing posts, rather than training.

Tom Richmond, the think tank’s director, said the apprenticeship scheme was “descending into farce”.

But a Department for Education spokeswoman defended apprenticeships as becoming “better quality”.

The apprenticeship levy is paid by large employers, who contribute 0.5% of their salary bill into the training fund.

But since 2017, the report claims £1.2bn from the levy has been spent on jobs “offering minimal training and low wages” or on “rebadging” jobs already offered by employers as apprenticeships.

In its first full year of operation, the levy raised £2.7bn and this is expected to rise to £3.4bn by 2023-24.

Apprenticeship spending is too often used on “existing adult workers instead of supporting young people into the workplace”, the report warns.

The education think tank says there is an insufficiently clear definition of what an apprenticeship should offer, so much so that the “brand itself has arguably become a meaningless concept”.

It describes 50% of apprenticeship courses since 2017 as “fake”, saying they do not “relate to helping young people get started in a skilled job or occupation”.

The think tank’s analysis says that £235m of the levy has been used to support “low-skill” roles, such as bar staff, shop checkout workers and those in “basic office administration”.

A further £551m has been used by firms for management training, with the report claiming this was often used for experienced staff rather than new recruits and could include the “rebadging” of existing schemes.

The most common apprenticeship is becoming a supervisor or team leader, representing about a tenth of all apprenticeships.

The report also criticises £448m spent on apprenticeships aimed at degree and postgraduate level.

This includes some academics with PhDs being labelled as apprentices in university training schemes in research and teaching.

It also includes support for degree apprenticeships, which are offered as a vocational alternative to academic degrees.

The report’s claims were strongly rejected by Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers.

He said there was a need for a wide range of apprenticeships, including those at a lower level – and he accused the report of using “caricatures” which had “no resemblance to the reality of what is actually being learnt”.

A National Audit Office report into apprenticeships last year warned: “There are risks that the programme is subsidising training that would have happened without government funding.”

The former education secretary Damian Hinds last year told the education select committee that apprenticeships were improving in quality.

But he had told MPs that “in the not too distant past” there had been people who did not even realise they were on an apprenticeship scheme.

The new think tank report says apprenticeships need to be more carefully defined and targeted if they are to “improve technical education for young people”.

“If the government wants apprenticeships to be taken seriously by young people, parents and teachers, they must protect this historic brand by scrapping all the ‘fake apprenticeships’ and benchmarking our training programmes against the best in the world,” said Mr Richmond.

“Not only will this save hundreds of millions each year, it will provide more opportunities for young people to train as genuine apprentices, especially those living in the most deprived areas.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman defended the value of apprenticeships and said they had to meet “high-quality requirements”.

She said they lasted “for a minimum of 12 months with at least 20% off-the-job training” and could not be called an apprenticeship unless it complied with such regulations.

Could Sharing Apprentices be the Answer for Businesses?
December 20, 2019
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The apprenticeship levy isn’t working hard enough – it’s up to employers to look for creative solutions, writes Louise Doyle.

Apprentices: Why we should encourage businesses to share them

Employment has changed considerably in the past 10 years. Greater flexibility, more home working, a rise in self-employment, a decline in traditional retail sectors and the growth of digital have transformed the way we fulfil our working lives. It makes sense that we look at the current apprenticeship models, examine that pattern of change, consider whether our current system is future-proof and where it isn’t, look for creative solutions.

By way of an example, I’d like to share with you a little about the environment in which our own business operates.

As a software provider, we are part of an increasing number of businesses that co-locate in business hubs alongside other like-minded organisations. As business owners, one of our main challenges as we grow is access to skilled people. But taking on an apprentice in a small business can be risky. Perhaps you’ll go out of business – what if you can’t pay them? Have you got enough work to keep them busy? Have you got the time to support them effectively? These are the questions being asked by business owners with integrity: those who, when they take on new staff, see a long-term future for them in their company.

The apprenticeship sector needs to respond to these barriers comprehensively: we need young, dynamic businesses to develop a mindset of seeking apprentices to employ in the same way they seek graduates. We need to meet and work with them during their early stage growth period; we shouldn’t wait until traditional recruitment practices of looking to the nearest undergraduate programme become entrenched. The levy-payer of tomorrow is the small business grappling with the complexity of scaling-up their business today.

Flexible apprenticeships

Perhaps the answer in this circumstance is to revisit how we support employers to share apprentices, opening up access to much-needed capacity for the business while providing a rich programme of (diverse) learning for the apprentice. Presenting opportunities to not one but multiple businesses to have an apprentice is a very exciting and tangible possibility. We already have the basis of such models – apprenticeship training associations – which could be applied more fully to new and evolving sectors if we grasp the chance to reimagine how they can fit.

When coupled with the levy-payers who are often connected to such hubs through formal and informal arrangements, we can potentially unlock some of the cash sitting in some levy-payers’ accounts.

Why? Because the levy is not working hard enough to ensure that young people can fully access the employment market. This must be addressed if any of us are to lay claim to it providing a meaningful return on investment.

Commitment to apprentices

Apprenticeships must be front-of-mind for employers – whatever the size of the business – when they are looking to fill a vacancy. We need to lead the line manager making recruitment decisions more firmly towards apprenticeships as a viable option. In part, this should be through refocusing the levy to require a percentage of the spend to be used on entry recruitment but also through education of employers as to how the levy can be used successfully to bring a return on investment.

I’m often asked, as a business owner, what my most valuable customer type is. I think this is an interesting question from an apprenticeship provider’s perspective. Let me try to answer it. A valuable customer is an employer who puts their money where their mouth is. A valuable employer, therefore, is one who doesn’t just sign a commitment statement but means it: from the beginning to the end of the apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are with the employer for around 80 per cent of the time. A valuable employer is someone who doesn’t forget it, working in partnership with their chosen training provider throughout.

There is evidence that it is harder to deliver quality apprenticeships because of the number of providers of apprenticeship provision that receive a “good” Ofsted judgement for “overall provision”, but fall short for their “apprenticeship provision”. It isn’t too much of a stretch, therefore, to recognise the role a challenging employer may play in the latter.

Ultimately, we should be striving to design and operate an apprenticeship system that is of equal value to both employers and apprentices. The litmus test for me with apprentices, rather than focusing on my business, always relates to my own children: would I want them to do an apprenticeship? Ten years ago I’m afraid the answer would have been no.

Now, the answer is a very definite yes, but I have the benefit of knowing exactly how to find good apprentices and the best apprenticeships. My vision, which I suspect is the same as most of you reading this, is that all other business leaders, parents and prospective apprentices can say the same.

Louise Doyle is a director at quality assurance and improvement specialist Mesma

External Quality Assurance Charges Begin
December 20, 2019
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The Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education (previously IfA) reports that the new charging system comes in for external quality assurance #EQA) of end point assessments #EPA – The charge will allow @IFAteched to maintain the service on a sustainable basis.

The proposed change has caused a bit of a stir in the sector, and people have taken to social media and Government forums to voice their concerns. 

The Institute has started charging for the external quality assurance (EQA), where it is the provider.

EQA evaluates the quality of end-point assessment (EPA) for apprenticeships.

Apprentices must pass the EPA to complete their apprenticeship, proving they are able to do their job to the high standards required.

The Institute has launched a charge of £40 per apprentice. The first invoices have now been sent out.

Nikki Christie, the Institute’s Deputy Director for Apprenticeship Assessment and Quality, said:

“Our priority is making sure apprentices and employers receive the high standard with apprenticeships assessment they deserve. As we explained in June, if we are to do that on a sustainable basis, we need to charge for the EQAs carried out by the Institute.”

It had been the position of government from the outset that the Institute should charge for delivery of EQA, where employers have nominated it as the provider.

Ms Christie said: “We hadn’t charged previously to allow time for the system to bed in, but the time is now right to do this. We will make no profits from these charges, they will only recover our costs.”

EQA can be carried out by a professional body, employer group, Ofqual or the Institute.

The Institute officially announced its intention to start charging for EQA in June this year. A decision was made to begin doing this from November, to allow more time for employers and training providers to prepare. Invoices have now been sent out.

Since January 2018, legislation has enabled the Institute to charge anything up to £56 per apprentice for its EQA service. The charge is an eligible cost as part of the conditions of being on the Register of EPAOs and other providers already charge for their service.

EQA is also an eligible cost in the ESFA funding rules for EPA organisations.

The £40 charge will only apply where employers have chosen the Institute as their EQA provider.

Charitable organisation Open Awards delivers EQA on behalf of the Institute.

The proposed change has caused a bit of a stir in the sector, and people have taken to social media and Government forums to voice their concerns. 

Young Care Leavers are Missing Out on Apprenticeship Opportunities
December 9, 2019
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Young care leavers are missing out on apprenticeship opportunities as experts warned they are not receiving adequate support to transition into sustainable careers.

The Children’s Society and Catch 22 are calling for more changes to the apprenticeship levy to encourage this underserved group into work and help care leavers see apprenticeships as a financially viable opportunity.

The latest Department for Education figures show 39 per cent of care leavers aged 19-21 are not in employment, education or training, compared to 12 per cent of those in the same age group.

At the launch event yesterday the charities launched their new Bright Light programme.

The pilot, funded by The Clothworkers’ Foundation, will offer holistic and tailored support to London’s young care leavers to help them into apprenticeships, employment or further education.

Emma Allix, Catch22’s Programme Manager for Bright Light, says:

“It is vital that employers are understanding of the personal barriers these young people face, and that they offer effective long-term support. We all have a responsibility to be better corporate parents to care leavers, and with the additional help with transport costs, training, or just improving access, we can change these young peoples’ lives. By offering this support to these young people, employers will see loyal, motivated employees, likely to build a long-term career with their organisation.

“We want those who contribute to the apprenticeship levy to dedicate half their expenditure to those under 30. It is equally important that employers are supported and encouraged to take on apprentices too.”

Peter Grigg, External Affairs Director at The Children’s Society, adds: 

“We know through our work that care leavers face a myriad of issues when looking to their future. They have not had the parental guidance needed to navigate the world of job hunting nor will they have the financial backing to take up an apprenticeship that pays just £3.30 per hour. This low wage is simply not enough to live on. That is why we are calling on the first year apprenticeship rate to be brought in line with under 18 minimum wage. This additional money would remove some of the financial barriers and hopefully reduce the disproportionate number of care leavers not in education, employment or training.”

Bright Light will enable care leavers to achieve the best possible outcomes when transitioning from care into adulthood and employment. The course will provide one to one support for up to 18 months. Career coaches will help each individual build their confidence, to understand employer expectations, interview techniques, budgeting, the importance of time management and more.

Loveth Benson, a 22 year old from East London, is one of Bright Light’s first participants. Loveth is currently at university but was signposted to the course because of the struggles she has faced in trying to find a job.

Loveth explained:

“I was in care at 15 and lived with foster families, then at 17 I was living in semi-supported housing, which was quite regulated, so I wasn’t allowed to get a part-time job. When I could get a job, I didn’t know what to put on my CV, or how to even do one. I didn’t know how to write a personal statement or a cover letter, and there was no one to ask for help… no parents. This course is helping me to find out more about these things.”

Loveth hopes being part of Bright Light will help her achieve her dream career:

“I really want to be a social worker. Being in care, I met lots of young people with different issues and backgrounds, but all of them had no one they could ask for help… I want to be able to help them. I have only just started the course but we have already looked at jobs that can help me achieve my goals.”

AELP Fears re ESFA Subcontracting Ban
November 19, 2019
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The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has today recommended a new, more “robust approach” to subcontracting in an effort to avoid an outright ban.

Subcontracting in FE, the practice of one provider paying another to deliver the training, has never been far from scandal and controversy. It has already been banned for advanced learner loan funded courses.

AELP fear funding agency considering outright subcontracting ban

In what the AELP describes as a “last chance saloon” for subcontracting apprenticeships and adult education budget funding, its chief executive, Mark Dawe, claims “by incorporating the recommendations in our submission into its rules, the agency can avoid ministers demanding a ban”.

The ESFA announced plans last month for a radical overhaul of its subcontracting rules amid high-profile cases of fraud, while Ofsted has launched research into the practice.

In its submission, the AELP said the “vast majority” of subcontracting is “high quality” and officials must not take a “damagingly blunt” approach to address the behaviours of a small number of providers.

The requirement and expectations of main providers who subcontract out government funding should be “much more robust” in order to ensure integrity.

AELP has produced a checklist of the “minimum expectations” of the main provider, which they say is significantly above and beyond the current ESFA rules and “should be adopted across the sector”.

This includes: acceptable fees, charges and additional services, quality monitoring and quality assurance, MIS, audit and ILR services, and contracting management (read the full report here).

The association says there also needs to be clarity on the “different types of subcontracting and what is and what isn’t a subcontract to help alleviate confusion across the sector, including with employers”.

AELP has used its submission paper to again call again for fees and charges not to exceed 20 per cent of the funding – a recommendation that has been adopted by the Greater London Authority and other mayoral combined authorities with devolved adult education funding.

This maximum cap would “block the profiteering of a small number of providers who commoditise their privileged access to government funding and ensure value for money”.

AELP adds that there should be a clear policy on management fees and charges being only applicable to core funding and not additional funding “designed to support specific groups of learners or to support certain additional needs”.

ESFA should also procure funding from providers that is “continuously subcontracted out on a transitional basis”, the association’s submission said.

“Recent examples of subcontracting malpractice do not justify at all a call for an outright ban on subcontracting in the sector, but a much more robust approach on the part of the ESFA and Ofsted would make a huge difference in stopping further examples occurring,” Dawe (pictured) said.

“Over the last ten years, AELP feels that the ESFA has rather dragged its heels in making the required changes needed in its funding rules to put the issue to bed and we are probably now in the last chance saloon.”

He added: “Let’s have no more prevarication around this issue which has been damaging the sector’s reputation for far too long. Change the rules now.”

Eileen Milner, the chief executive of the ESFA, sent a sector-wide letter last month warning of rule changes to subcontracting and that she will take strong action against any provider that abuses the system.

She said there are currently 11 live investigations into subcontracting, with issues underpinning them ranging in seriousness from “complacency and mismanagement”, through to matters of “deliberate and systematic fraud”.

She revealed the government will review its current subcontracting rules later this year.

Ofsted’s research will mainly look at whether management fees, which have controversially grown to as much as 40 per cent on subcontract values, are having a detrimental impact on learners’ education.

There have been a number of high-profile subcontracting scandals in recent years. The most recent involved Brooklands College and resulted in the ESFA demanding a £20 million clawback.