Richard Marsh, Apprenticeships Partnership Director, Kaplan UK

A response to the new apprenticeship funding proposals consultation

With any funding changes there will inevitably be ‘winners’ and ‘losers’.  If we are past the days of ‘transitory protection’ for institutions, it is now very much up to each training provider to review the new apprenticeship rates and products with their clients, and then to decide on what their 2017 ‘offer’ will be. 

There has always been a big differential between apprenticeship ‘rates’ but these have been cushioned by weightings and other factors. With the size of your total funding envelope, divided by your total number of learners as the key measure. However with the new rates laid bare and separated from allocations (for levy payers at least) this is no longer the case.

Each apprenticeship is now funded, and therefore judged on its own merits; bringing much needed clarity and transparency.
This has been the direction of travel for some time but this journey has just been accelerated.
It is important that this judgment is made carefully and comprehensively.

Ofsted and others have continually used the line that traditional apprenticeships in engineering and construction for example are more valuable than apprenticeships like customer service and the ubiquitous business admin. And funding has followed suit with rates being further differentiated.
Apprenticeships: developing skills for future prosperity (Ofsted 2015)

Key finding no1
•    The quality of the apprenticeship provision reviewed was too variable

There may well be some truth in this but is it a result or a cause of funding? IE will widening the funding gap bring more consistency or less.
If the new range is from £1,500 to £27,000 is it any longer useful to compare programmes across the whole range using the same metrics. Of course some subjects cost more in time and equipment but surely not by a factor of 18.

Would you compare a £1,500 car with a £27k one? What parity of esteem is being expressed here.

Employers may be able to make and understand the distinction between apprenticeship rates but it is unlikely that individuals can.
If someone responds to an apprenticeship vacancy, do they not also need to know how much the state has deemed their education to be worth?
In reality a £1,500 apprenticeship will mean £1,000 of training (after EPA, administration etc)

As the 20% off the job and 12 month min elements are compulsory for all this should mean 50 days of training; for £1,000. As this is often 1-2-1 instruction then it represents great VFM at £20 a day ….

Of course nobody can offer quality instruction for this price and so the challenge is to find ever more efficient delivery methods.
It may well be that employers or LEPs will pay extra for subjects that they value but this won’t be the case across the board and providers are now unable to cross subsidise.

Personally I think DFE has to bite the bullet and decide if there are some courses that it just does not deem to be apprentices (3m target or not).
And to introduce a sensible mimumum funding threshold across all of FE, including apprentices.

Using price to try and drive employer / provider behaviour has not worked well in the past and the human collateral damage is not justifiable.
After all who would want their son or daughter to be the one undertaking a £1,000 apprenticeship?

Richard Marsh, Apprenticeships Partnership Director, Kaplan UK

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