From education to employment

The last year of normal

So we have survived another Academic year.

At the end of this month Academic Year (AY) 2015/16 will finish and AY 2016/17 will begin.

Amongst training providers it is a time of frantic activity; of new-year plans and resolutions and also a time of change. Well it is normally, but I am struggling to find any significant changes from AY 2015/16 to AY 2016/17, especially in terms of the crucial area of Apprenticeship policy, funding and practise.

Assuming we are still on track for a spring ’17 Levy, AY 16/17 could well be remembered as the last year of ‘normal’. That is if the current system can be described as normal.

Like many of you we are now training apprentices against Frameworks and Standards (as well as Scottish Modern Apprenticeships and Welsh frameworks).  This means that we are working with the SFA funding framework model, and the ‘Trailblazer’ funding methodology (plus Scottish and Welsh systems etc).

There are even two sets of SFA funding rules just for Apprenticeships.

Assuming that we have learners start on the Levy systems (which is actually 2 funding systems: levy payer + non levy payer) from April  (or August?) 2017 then by this time next year we will be running 3 concurrent funding systems just for Apprentices in England in 2017… (Framework, Trailblazer and Levy).

I am sure that we are all quite daunted by the challenges of running multiple funding systems simultaneously and of course will it require a substantial investment in time, software and training. This is the cost of change and it isn’t always accounted for.

As well as internal changes and adaptations we need to explain what is happening to our clients and creating straightforward explanations for employers befuddled by the whole thing are not an easy or a simple exercise.

Yet in essence our purpose stays the same – upskilling the workforce – and if the end of normal means we eventually end up with just one apprenticeship funding system, then I will raise a new-year toast to that!

Richard Marsh

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