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Procurement pause for apprenticeship training in smaller employers – Sector Response

The government is committed to investing in high-quality apprenticeships to make sure all employers have the skills they need, and young people and adults alike across the country have a chance to reach their full potential.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has carefully considered the applications made in response to the recent procurement for apprenticeship training provision for non-levy-paying employers.

This procurement was markedly oversubscribed, a sign of the significant level of interest from the training provider market in the apprenticeship reforms. In response, ESFA intends to pause the current competition. This will allow us to review our approach to ensure that we achieve the right balance between stability of supply and promoting competition and choice for employers. It is important that we fully consider how best to achieve these outcomes in a way that achieves the best value for employers and apprentices as we move to a fully employer-led system.

We will undertake further engagement with the market to clarify our approach, and ensure that this meets the government’s wider objectives of securing stability in the market, good sectoral and geographical coverage of provision, and a market which meets the skills needs of employers. We will issue further guidance shortly.

In order to maintain stability in the system through the start of the next academic year, in the interim period we will extend existing contracts held by all current providers until the end of December 2017. To maintain our quality standards, current providers with extended contracts will be able to undertake new starts on those contracts provided they are on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers. The ESFA will notify providers of specific arrangements shortly so that amended contracts are in place ahead of 1 May.

This will not affect training provision for existing learners. Extending existing providers contracts means employers can be confident in taking on new apprentices without disruption over the months ahead.

Sector Response to today’s announcement from the government to pause the apprenticeship procurement process it initiated last October for training providers to bid for contracts to deliver apprenticeships to non-levy paying SME employers.

MarkDawe 100x100Mark Dawe, AELP Chief Executive said:
“AELP fully supports the government’s welcome announcement which is right for the sector and right for the apprenticeship programme. 
“It clearly shows that the government is as serious about the quality of the programme and the social mobility benefits of apprenticeships as it is about hitting the 3 million target.  The decision also gives the new providers on the register more time to prepare their offer for non-levy paying employers but more importantly, existing providers can continue to support their employers and start new apprentices while a more considered review of anticipated programme demand takes place in the context of the Industrial Strategy and the skills implications of Brexit.
“We recognise that some providers who invested a great deal of effort into last autumn’s procurement will be frustrated by the announcement but the programme’s reputation will be better served by this rethink of the government’s approach.  AELP looks forward to working with ministers and officials on a sensible way forward.”
david hughes 100 x100David Hughes, Chief Executive at the Association of Colleges (AoC), said:
“I am pleased that the pause on the apprenticeship procurement process has been announced by the Education and Skills Funding Agency. It is a sensible and helpful recognition of the scale and complexity of change which is happening at the moment.
“This provides welcome stability to colleges and providers as well as to employers and apprentices through the coming months; this will give more time to get the procurement process right. We know that there are many new providers wanting to enter the apprenticeship market, but the Government needs to find a way to ensure that their introduction does not inadvertently undermine current high quality, trusted colleges and providers that have built strong employer relationships over many years and for which apprenticeships are a key opportunity for progression for their students.”

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