Press release – Monday 8 October 2018
Education Committee report on Apprenticeship
Government should adopt MPs’ recommendations on the apprenticeship reforms without delay
The recommendations in the Education Committee’s report, expertly steered by Robert Halfon MP, are to be warmly welcomed and the government should waste no time in implementing all of them, according to the Association of Employment and Learning Providers which represents providers that train 3 out of every 4 apprentices in England.
It is a pity that the excellent set of observations and recommendations may be overshadowed by media headlines of ‘poor quality training’, especially when Ofsted’s chief inspector has said herself that 80% of current apprentices are receiving good or outstanding training. That said, every apprentice should be on at least a good programme and the Committee has hit the nail on the head when it identifies as a major issue the government’s letting into the apprenticeship market a mass of untested providers and assessors with few controls and limited monitoring. Read more
The Education and Skills Funding Agency announced on 9 August that all employers would not be able to use the apprenticeship service to access apprenticeship funding from April 2019 as previously planned.
To ensure a more gradual and stable transition, the Agency will instead extend current contracts for training providers delivering training for employers that do not pay the apprenticeship levy
for 12 months, from April 2019 to March 2020.
Responding to this announcement, AELP chief policy officer Simon Ashworth said:
– A review of how growth requests are managed
– More public support and backing from Government
– More engagement and access to direct funding for Traineeship subcontractors
– Removal of some unhelpful ‘success measures’
– Tackling the disjoint between the recognised and accepted aims of the programme and how provider performance is currently being measured
The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) is consulting on a new Code of Good Governance for Independent Training Providers who deliver publicly funded skills programmes on behalf of the government.
The draft Code sets out the key themes and principles which any provider in the sector will need to adopt in order to show that it is conducting its business in the best interest of its trainees, Training employers, key stakeholders and funders.
It adopts and builds on the Seven (Nolan) Principles of Public Life which provide an ethical framework for the personal behaviour of a provider’s board members and leadership.
These standards are:
With support from the Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL), the Code has been designed to apply to all independent training providers (ITPs), including limited companies, charities and not-for-profit organisations and AELP is strongly recommending that all of its ITP members adopt it. Read more
Many employers feel they don’t have a good understanding of T-Levels, according to City & Guilds.
With two years to go until their introduction, just 17% of UK employers feel that they have a good understanding of T-Levels, with almost half (49%) rating their understanding as poor. Additionally, 54% of education providers rate their understanding as either middling or poor.
T-Levels were announced in the 2017 Spring Budget, with the aim to replace 15,000 technical qualifications with 15 vocational routes, including construction, creative and design, digital, engineering and manufacturing, health, and science.
A key part of the T-Level programme is a mandatory 45-day work placement. Currently most employers (71%) and training providers (74%) offer work placements of one to two weeks for 16- to 19-year-olds. Only 8% of employers provide placements of the duration required for T-Levels, meaning a step change will be required to accommodate these placements in industry, the research stated.
In addition, there will need to be a significant increase in the number of work placement students employers take on, with an estimated 180,000 placements needed per year.
More encouragingly, most employers expressed support for this part of the new qualification, with almost three-quarters (74%) of those surveyed saying they are willing to play a greater role in helping students apply their learning in a workplace setting. However, both employers and training providers cited concerns around the implementation of the work placements.
This document has been produced by AELP as a guide to help providers and employers understand and work to the current ESFA funding rules on planning and delivering a minimum of 20% off-the-job training (OTJT).
That was the message from key figures in the training sector at a special event in Parliament on Tuesday, hosted by shadow further education and skills minister Gordon Marsden and the Association of Education and Learning Providers (AELP).
The traineeship programme was launched in 2013 by the coalition government as a route into apprenticeships, education or employment – and to help youngsters become “job ready” by developing their soft skills.
However, the programme has stalled recently, with traineeship starts falling last year for the first time. In 2016-17, there was a 15.7 percent drop in starts, from 24,100 in the previous year to 20,300. The biggest drop was among 19- to 24-year-olds, with a fall of 31.3 percent from 9,400 last year to 6,400.
A request to scrap the “controversial” £200,000 threshold in the new non-levy procurement process is going to be put forward by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers.
Mark Dawe, the association’s chief executive, described the minimum contract value for the tender, which was launched by the Education and Skills Funding Agency last week, as a “pro rata risk” during a webinar with members.
Under the rule, the ESFA has said that in all cases, the lowest contract value that will be awarded for the “initial contact period” is £200,000.
The agency will “not make an award to the potential provider” if this amount is not met. The agency said the rule has been introduced so that providers can “have greater confidence that bids and subsequent awards are set at a realistic level”.
But small providers are fearing they will not be able to meet the threshold and as such, Mr Dawe is calling for it to be scrapped.
“This is going to be our main area where we need to continue the conversation with the ESFA to ask is this really right,” he said.
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