Dr Chris Payne, CEO ITS Group

It was spring of 2011, sat in a packed conference room, somewhere in London, where I vividly recall listening to Doug Richard as he set out his agenda when the DBIS launched the Apprenticeship review, and I paraphrase Mr Richard... “...Apprenticeships belong to employers, they do not need training providers (colleges, ITPs et al), as I believe employers have the capabilities to do it all [train apprentices] themselves...” D. Richard 2011.

For me that was the start of an unnecessary radical reform of an apprenticeship system, which may have had some bad press for isolated poor practice, but had no grounded evidence for wholesale change. On reflection there is nothing wrong or new in the idea of employers contributing to the development of their workforce. Comforting to know it was the same government party that dismantled ITB levy system in the mid eighties, whom are in power today re-introducing levy in 2017.

But why oh why did they have to break apprenticeships as a route to ask employers to accept the levy system.

Anecdotal evidence from the Richard’s review included statements that quoted employers saying “providers do not give me what I need”. But when you examine this closer Training Providers where attempting to give employers what they needed, despite the system, but what employers really meant is they wanted funded training, which wasn’t always accommodated by the apprenticeship framework [designed by employers].

Following the recent trailblazers, we are starting to feel a déjà vu situation, standards having been developed by a group of employers, now need to be accepted by the rest of the employers in each sector, offering an apprenticeship programme that meets the needs of every employer.

We [Employers and the sector alike] were distracted by the levy system, which can be seen as a reasonable ask of employers to invest in their people and organisation, but using the storyline that employers can completely own apprenticeship as a sweetener to implement an apprenticeship tax, was misleading and intentionally created chaos throughout.

The irony is we [the sector] had previously spent some ten years working with employers, government and awarding bodies to create a more flexible & responsive Qualifications and Credits Framework system (QCF 2012). With the intent of enabling providers and employers to co-design a training solution; pure employer-led to meet their WFD needs and, underpinned with a qualification for the individual, thus improving their social and career mobility.

Apprenticeship was the ideal vehicle to embrace this approach; it just needed common sense to form an evolution approach for apprenticeships, not a revolution, which is what we have finished with today, based on no grounded evidence of quality improvement, and a backward step with regard to being employer-led [evidenced by the number of apprentice starts since May 2017], other than attracting funding into the system [which hasn’t been fully utilised, as a result of simplifying the system (sorry couldn’t resist)].

I can write a book on the following topics which have now been exposed and questioned since the Richard [Apprenticeship] review:

  • 20% off Job doesn’t equal quality
  • Degree apprenticeship are not part time degrees
  • 3M Apprenticeship starts cannot be achieved by Higher Skills & Degree Apprenticeships alone, it [the target] needs to be the whole Apprenticeship Family.
  • (Most) Employers don’t have the ‘capacity, capability or will to own & deliver apprenticeship.
  • The new system is not ‘pure’ employer – led

and much more…

May be I will be invited by FE News to comment on the above another day, but for now let’s be ‘selfish’ and look at the [our] FE sector, which now includes in excess of 2000 organisations on ROATP, employing an estimated excess of c.500,000 highly skilled people, a sector which produces added value impact both for the national economy & local communities.

I’m sure some people will correct me and quote “...its market forces... ...the best will survive and quality will win the day”. In any normal transformational change programme and open market, I would agree and some of you will know I have been an advocate of this evolutional approach during my 35 years in the FE world.

However, that’s the main challenge today, and for the future, it is not a ‘norm’, nor has it been a well executed change (improvement) programme. If training providers wait for IFA, ESFA and DFE to get it right, most (providers) will either leave the sector or stop delivering apprenticeships or dissolve into the ether, with no discrimination whether they are ‘good or bad’!

The challenge which employers face is trying to comprehend a world of levy, non-levy, Apprenticeship reforms; standards, complex contracts, ROATP, EPA so on…!

And so we return to the organisations who now take on the role of making this happen, yes Mr Doug Richard, it is Training Providers of all shapes and sizes, who will again accept the challenge of convincing all employers that standards designed by others are fit for purpose for their organisational needs, whilst demystifying the bureaucracy within the system. And demonstrating return on apprenticeships as a great human capital investment.

Training Providers now need to raise their game, work collaboratively, have a unified voice for the sector or find themselves in a world of boom or bust.

Dr Chris Payne, CEO ITS Group

Copyright © 2018 FE News

About Dr Chris Payne: He sas worked in the post 16 FE sector for more than 35 years, for Colleges, independent training providers and government agencies.

His career includes leading national training companies alongside providing an executive mentor service to senior management and leaders. All of which has been underpinned by his personal commitment to lifelong learning. He is best known for his strategic work and work based training (regionally and nationally) leading the modernisation of Apprenticeships in the early 90’s.

As a successful leader he continues to offer breadth & depth of knowledge & experience in the ever-evolving world of business and training. Lived in Nottinghamshire all his life, family man and has a highly competitive trait.

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

Since the call here seems to include Mind the Quality,
in which ways should quality be defined and...

Abertay has published a new article: How do I qualify as a First Aid Trainer? yesterday
FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter yesterday

The latest podcasts from FE News for 10/16/2021 - https://t.co/Hyjo6M7BQX
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