This week we have all been invited to comment upon the draft strategic guidance for the new Institute for Apprenticeships. This is a very government way of proudly showing off a new born quango and of ensuring they do what they are told.

Where does the IFA sit and what will it do?

It is a new body blessed with an interesting collection of existing responsibilities:

Strategic responsibilities that were held in turn by SSDA-UKCES-BIS

How many occupations/standards should there be / do we need?

Funding (pricing) responsibilities that were held by SFA/BIS/DFE

How much is each Apprenticeship worth to UK plc and the

Quality (strategy) role once held by NAS

How we get 20% off the job delivery (50 days+ training)- from a £2k standard?...etc

Overall though I think that the IFA is intended to create a smoother channel between Industry & Education using Apprenticeships as the connector.

In England we may well end up with 500 Apprenticeship standards (plus a few stubborn Frameworks that refuse to die)

These will then have to be related to 18 Technical pathways that in turn feed skilled labour into an undefined number of core industrial sectors. 

IFA diagram

Will it work?

I hope so and maybe it will.  

And as we haven’t had a new FE quango for quite a while, (what no more bonfires?) … we should bestow the new-born with gifts, such as ‘wisdom, fairness & longevity’


Maybe the IFAs major advantage could be that it has no money.  

Trailblazers have been ‘bottom’ up initiatives based on employers finding common solutions to common skills problems – brilliantly addressing our social partnership deficit. No one has been paid to do this.

In the recent past, we (taxpayers) have spent something like;

  • £100m via National Skills Academies to create technical training paths and partnerships in the key industries.  Then,
  • £50m on the SASE frameworks (inc £25m ‘higher’ fund) to create Apprenticeship Frameworks in the key industries. Followed by,
  • £300m on Employer Ownership pilots (in key industries of course). 

(When I was at the LSC we never knew if someone had a good idea for unlocking talent or just a good idea for accessing funding - usually the money).

None of the above seem to be very relevant to, or linked to the IFA remit at present. But hopefully the above initiatives will be built on and not ignored; surely the tax payer can expect nothing less..


For the IFA - every penny they award to one industry will have to come from another – ie to give Roofing an extra £100 per apprentice £100 will have to be taken from each Flooring apprenticeship ….

And the overall budget will be set by the Economy, at 0.5% of payroll.

Thus it will be hard for IFA to make pricing changes, as decisions have already been made on the first ‘caps’ with STEM already prioritised. As there is still no underlying or empirical  methodology for pricing standards or pricing methodology to work to (ie we are not using GLH or real costs but a mix of quotes and common sense ) it will be hard to support any requests for a higher cap in one area without upsetting another. This is the area where the backing core sectors of an Industrial strategy will come into play and they will need to be brave.

In my mind IFA will be a bit like the ‘NICE’ is for the NHS - but for FE, deciding which skills medicines the country needs and how much we should pay for them….


As the NAO might ask how will we know it has worked?

Economists might try and construct a model for measuring the impact of the IFA but in an age where recent Education Secretaries proclaim that we have ‘had enough of experts’ I think the true test will be how long it is before the next big Apprenticeship reform and how long the IFA itself lasts

If a quango makes it to 10 - then it is considered to have been a success and have lived a long and productive life.


So the IFA will be part policeman, ‘preventing unscrupulous behaviour’ and part watchdog – deciding what is and isn’t an apprenticeship - and part judge, balancing funding between competing sector interests and government priorities…a tough job.

If it takes a village to raise a child, then maybe it takes a whole sector to raise a Quango – so why not log on and give them some early words of encouragement and advice…. they might well need it. 

Richard Marsh, Apprenticeship Partnership DirectorKaplan UK 

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

Peter has published a new article: EDHEC and EURECOM Sign Strategic Alliance yesterday
FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter yesterday

Women Empowerment: How Far Have We Come in Recent Years?: Here in the UK, the past year has been difficult for ever…
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 May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 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.

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