Roger Francis is a Director with Creative Learning Partners LtdRoger Francis is a director at Creative Learning Partners

Government publications rarely contain information of any great significance but the latest Apprenticeship Plan "English Apprenticeships: Our 2020 Vision" is an exception and one particular clause, 2.22, is likely to trigger the biggest upheaval in vocational training in the last 50 years. Here is the clause in full:

To help employers make an informed decision about where their money is spent, the Skills Funding Agency maintains the Register of Training Organisations and the Register of Apprenticeship Assessment Organisations. Training providers and assessment organisations must provide information about their organisational viability and how they quality assure the products and services they offer. Employers are free to select any organisation from these registers to deliver the training and assessment they need for their apprentices.

The key part of this clause is the final sentence. For the very first time, as far as I am aware, the government has signaled that there will no longer be a distinction between "Prime" contractors (who have previously held a direct SFA contract) and "Sub-contractors" and that any training provider who meets the necessary due diligence standards and is accepted on to The Register of Training Organisations (ROTO), will now be eligible to become a "Lead Provider" and negotiate directly with employers to agree commercial terms to deliver Apprenticeship training.

So finally we will be operating on a level playing field and providers will be judged on the quality of their work and the outcomes they achieve. The term "Disruption" is now widely used to describe mega-trends and influences which impact on specific sectors and industries and I anticipate that this single paragraph in a government publication will cause disruption on a huge scale within the vocational training arena.

Challenges and opportunities for providers

Firstly I suspect that many new high-quality providers will be attracted into the sector. Previously they would have been put off by their inability to gain a direct contract from the SFA and their unwillingness to sub-contract and effectively put a key revenue stream at the mercy of a Prime Contractor charging extortionate "management fees". However in the new world, Apprenticeship delivery becomes a much more attractive commercial proposition. With both mandatory employer monetary contributions and increased funding levels from the government, the overall size of the market has suddenly increased dramatically. So look out for some big new players entering the market.

Existing providers will need to tear up their current business models and start afresh. They must manage the transition from "frameworks" to "standards" and prepare for the implementation of end-point assessments whilst at the same time operating for the first time in a truly competitive marketplace. Those colleges and independent providers who have relied on sub-contracting as a useful revenue stream, will need to think again. There will be casualties but at the same time, many providers will rise to the challenge and use this opportunity to rejuvenate their operations and rethink their strategies. Is this an opportunity for new partnerships and a genuine collaborative approach to Apprenticeship training?

How will employers respond?

Finally, the huge unknown remains the response of employers to the Levy and the new funding arrangements. The current proposals favour larger employers; smaller businesses, who have been led to believe that Apprenticeship training is "free" and managed by an external provider, will struggle in the short-term to cope with the concept of contributing to the training of their own people.

Whilst we need to change that mindset in order to build a genuine world-class Apprenticeship programme, it won't happen overnight and paradoxically by excluding 98% of businesses from the Apprenticeship Levy, the government may not have helped its own cause. The danger is that these companies will simply ignore the whole employer ownership process whereas the imposition of a levy might have encouraged them to join the programme and seek a return on their investment. SMEs have a huge role to play in the economic success of our country and I feel the government may need to look again at how to best bring them on board.

For both employers and training providers, the coming months are going to be hugely challenging as all the stakeholders consider the implications of these changes. To successfully navigate this transitional period, it is vital that we adopt a positive mindset and look to the future rather than yearning for the past. I know that many people have serious reservations about these changes and I respect their views. But equally, I think we now have a one-off opportunity to transform the vocational training landscape and we should grasp that with both hands.

Roger Francis is a director with Creative Learning Partners, a specialist vocational training company focusing on the delivery of Functional Skills

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 22 hours 32 minutes ago

Educating yourself in Prison: an inside job

Educating yourself in Prison: an inside job

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 22 hours 33 minutes ago

RT @NCFE: ‘For as long as humans have worked, and whatever industry they may have worked in, success has always been predicated on having t…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page