Adrian Anderson, Chief Executive, UVAC

Read many articles in the FE press or talk to FE sector leaders and you will soon get the impression that management apprenticeships are a very bad thing:

  1. There’s has been an ‘unstoppable’ growth in their use,
  2. They represent a misuse of the apprenticeship levy,
  3. A land grab by the middle class ‘haves’, and
  4. Every £ spent on management apprenticeships is a £ less to spend on 16-19 apprenticeships.

1. Their unstoppable growth.

Sir Gerry BerraganAn easy one! May I endorse the excellent points made by Sir Gerry Berragan, chief executive of the Institute (previously IfA) in his FE News article of the 15 January, "Degree Apprenticeships a Key Element of a Broad Apprenticeship Offer" in which he stated:

"The 2,900 or so starts on the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship represent just 1.5% of all starts on standards. This doesn’t seem disproportionate.’"

So, can we drop the claim of ‘unstoppable growth’?

2. Misuse of the apprenticeship levy

Next, need. Look at any national, regional or sector analysis of skills gaps and shortages and management skills will feature as a key deficit.

The Government’s Industrial Strategy identifies the UK’s poor management skills as a key reason for the UK’s productivity gap – ‘Management skills could account for a quarter of the productivity gap between the UK and the US’.

In this context Ofsted’s chief inspector’s quoted concern that too much levy funding is being spent on higher levels seems at best ill-informed and ill-judged.

Indeed, it’s staggering that a body such as Ofsted, with a quality role, can be so critical of apprenticeships that could well make the biggest impact on the UK economy and on productivity – a key purpose of the programme.

During National Apprenticeship Week 2019, the National Audit Office recommended that DfE should measure the impact of apprenticeship on productivity and indicate the level of impact that it is aiming to achieve.

Given this recommendation, may I suggest the role and approach of Ofsted in apprenticeship should be a first topic up for review?

3. Land grab by the middle class

There’s then the charge that Government shouldn’t be paying for ‘MBA apprenticeships’ and instead monies raised through the levy should be focused on apprenticeships for 16-19 year-olds.

Here again we’ve had press headlines featuring Ofsted’s chief inspector with the caption ‘MBAs just don’t need funding’. Let’s unpick the argument.

Firstly, the largest levy payers, the NHS, local authorities and police forces are certainly using and will increasingly use the Chartered Manager and Senior Leader Degree Apprenticeships to raise the skills levels and leadership capabilities of their managers.

So, monies raised through the levy in the public sector are and will be used to raise public sector skills and increase public sector productivity. Great?

Advertisement

Well this argument doesn’t seem to be accepted by FE sector leaders or Ofsted, although I suspect it will be by the Department of Health, Home Office and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

So, if the public sector was restricted in some way in its use of management apprenticeships where should the money ‘saved’ be used? An option would be to compel public sector organisations to use lower level Apprenticeships they don’t really need.

This wouldn’t, of course, be in the interests of the public sector, or indeed the general public and would run counter to the purpose of the apprenticeship reforms – the employer is, after all, supposed to be in the driving seat as the customer and purchaser.

Then there’s the demand to make more money raised from the levy available to non-levy paying employers, particularly for lower level apprenticeships.

But can anyone explain why monies raised from the public sector, the NHS, police forces, local authorities etc. should be used to fund low level hairdressing, catering or business administration apprenticeships in small private businesses?

Let’s then look at the private sector’s use of management apprenticeships. The ESFA’s ‘botched’ procurement for apprenticeship provision for non-levy paying employers has meant universities have little, if any, funding to deliver management apprenticeships for SMEs.

And for large and multi-national companies who are using management apprenticeships what do leaders of the FE and skills sector want?

Is it to restrict choice and compel businesses to use level 2 Apprenticeships they don’t really need, which incidentally FE providers want to supply?

So as car companies flee the UK, future business investment is on a knife edge and when businesses need the most competent managers possible to deal with the effects of Brexit – do FE colleagues really want to restrict the ability of business to use the apprenticeships they really need and instead flood the market with level 2 Apprenticeship provision?

Then there’s the social justice argument. Firstly, can I make the point that the engagement of top university business schools and the use of Apprenticeship by individuals from all backgrounds is a good thing. Unlike some I don’t want Apprenticeship to be the good choice for other peoples’ children, but instead to be an aspirational choice for all.

Of course, it’s important that such opportunities are open to individuals from all backgrounds and we get the message across that a diverse workforce is a productive workforce.

The HE regulator, the Office for Students, has already started excellent work here and HEIs will, rightly, be held to account on their performance in ensuring access for individuals from all backgrounds.

4. Less to spend on 16-19 apprenticeships

Finally, we come to the apparent need to fund 16-19 Apprenticeships.

Firstly, may I ask why Ofsted believes it is appropriate to argue that employers should focus on providing Apprenticeships to young people without a full level 2? Surely Ofsted should focus on ensuring a third of young people don’t leave compulsory education after 11 years without a full level 2.

Isn’t it a little unfair for Ofsted to suggest employers pick up the bill and rectify a failure of the schools’ system?

Of course, young people without a level 2 need support, but apprenticeship probably isn’t the best answer anyway; rather this is where Traineeships and T levels could play an important role.

So, can I suggest we do what Skills Minister, the Rt Hon Anne Milton MP, has said and have ‘a fully employer-led system’.

If this means employers spend less on level 2 Apprenticeships because they don’t need them to grow and sustain their business - so be it, there are alternative progression routes for individuals.

Let’s put the needs of employers first and training providers second and celebrate the success of the Apprenticeship reforms - specifically the use of management apprenticeships which will pay handsome dividends for the UK economy and society.

Adrian Anderson, Chief Executive, UVAC

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Newsroom Activity

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.

Podcasts

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.

Events

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