AELP CEO Mark Dawe said:
AELP is pleased that the government were true to their word and treated the apprenticeship consultation as just that – a consultation. While there are clearly still areas of concern, significant steps have been taken to respond to the key matters raised by AELP and its members and we welcome that.
It’s good to see a very much improved position for 16-18 year olds, particularly on existing frameworks. There may still be issues for individual sectors when a more detailed analysis is undertaken, but this is a positive move.
Today’s moves towards the reinstatement of deprivation funding will be a great relief for those supporting the hardest to reach learners and fits with this new government’s commitment to social justice. However while we welcome the £600 set amount as a good first step, it applies to frameworks only and it may not be enough. The government has promised to keep this under review and we look forward to working with it on securing the outcome that will work best for these learners and maintain the level of support seen previously for those greatest in need.
We are sure the extension of the period to utilise the levy to 24 months will be welcomed by employers to allow them time to develop, implement and embed their long-term apprenticeship strategy.
With regard to the provider register, sense has prevailed with a proposal around subcontracting that is actually deliverable, removing the ability to just tout funding around the system, while leaving enough flexibility to provide employer focused partnership solutions for delivery. The decision to exclude providers with contract values below £100k from having to join the register (they still can apply if they want to) in order to deliver apprenticeships is good news, demonstrating the true benefit of a proper consultative approach and in direct response to representations from AELP.
Understandably our members still have concerns that we think are legitimate and need action. The negotiation of price, auctioning apprentices to the lowest bidder, will add extra risk when attempting to achieve one of the skills minister’s main aims of ensuring all apprenticeships are high quality.
AELP has highlighted strongly that without any underwriting of funding, non-levy payers will be picking up the scraps from the levy payers. We have said that placing these smaller companies in a lower league of priority for apprenticeship delivery, even though they have been the core of delivery to date, provide accessibility across the country, would be disastrous for social mobility and productivity. We would therefore like to see the details of the non-levy budget and hope that it is maintained at current estimated levels.
While not part of this consultation, there are still concerns about many standards and end point assessments and the whole process for their development and approval. AELP hopes to work closely with the DfE and the Institute for Apprenticeships to find solutions to these concerns, which if not properly addressed, are in danger of undermining the success of the apprenticeship policy.