From education to employment

Preferential treatment of Main Providers over Supporting Providers and Employer Providers – Find an Apprenticeship Provider

Patrick Tucker
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I am fortunate to work with a large number of training providers and to have worked for Colleges and private training providers in a variety of roles and many sectors, more recently in my role as a Non- Executive Director, and Chairman. I have developed organisations to offer high-quality apprenticeship provision that is recognised by employers and by learners, this is through the satisfaction survey and ensuring accurate benchmarking / impact measurement. One of the mechanisms for promotion that I inform all providers to utilise is to ensure that the ‘find an apprenticeship provider’ is updated, and to ensure that when meeting with clients they use the results from FE Choices Annual Survey to inform part of their decision making.

FE Choices provides comparable information to help learners and employers make informed choices about education and training. It also acts as a process for parents when ensuring correct decisions for their child entering the world of further education / training. 

With this in-mind, any apprenticeship provider now has to be on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP), the register of apprenticeship training providers lists organisations eligible to receive government funding to train apprentices, this includes Supporting Providers and Employer Providers. 

The supporting provider route is for organisations who will enter into subcontracts with main providers and employer providers to deliver apprenticeship training, whereas the employer provider route is for employers that pay the apprenticeship levy who will directly deliver training to their own employees or those of connected companies and use the apprenticeship service to pay for apprenticeship training, providers that meet the employer provider requirement can also act as subcontractors.

There are currently 450 Supporting Providers and 173 Employer Providers on the RoATP, they are not shown on the Find an Apprenticeship Provider, which I believe is creating an unfair proposition within the apprenticeship provider market. These ‘Providers’ of apprenticeship provision that are on the RoATP which lists organisations eligible to receive government funding to train apprentices, do not have the capacity to ‘market’ themselves as Main Providers, thus creating what I believe to be an uneven playing field for learners, parents and employers to make a  valid & fair decision to selecting a service. 

Furthermore, it does not allow a public viewing for these providers to showcase their offer, which includes:

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  • A narrative about themselves
  • The Apprenticeships they deliver
  • Annual survey results, and
  • Contact details.

These providers make up over 30% of the apprenticeship providers on the RoATP, which also leads to in my opinion creating an unfair external marketing environment (micro and macro), these micro and macro environments have a significant impact on the success of marketing activities for providers.

The Find an Apprenticeship Provider platform will enable Supporting Providers and Employer Providers to be able to market themselves more effectively, and the platform is a good source of doing it and is free to all providers. 

Given there seems to be an unfair picture of providers on the Find an Apprenticeship Provider service, I am suggesting that ALL providers on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers be they Main (as they are organisations eligible to receive government funding to train apprentices or subcontract (ergo in receipt of Public Funding)) but also supporting  and employer providers should be able be on the Find an Apprenticeship Provider service to allow for a fair, transparent and open service to all users. In short, promoting transparency in the use of public spending.

It will also allow for the 623 providers not on the ‘find an Apprenticeship Provider’ to market their offer to the wider public via an open Government portal, and as a final thought I am aware of where many Main Providers do not keep it up to date or use it properly either, to me now is a great time to refresh all platforms/portals to ensure all is up to date and keep them updated to remain ‘fresh’ for all to see. 

To conclude, I want to leave two questions as food for thought and for discussion on Promote-Ed’s forum

  • Why aren’t Supporting & Employer Providers Approved by the ESFA to deliver Apprenticeship Training not given the same promotion as Main training providers?
  • Why can’t all apprenticeship Providers market themselves on an equal footing?

Patrick Tucker

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