I think we're at a really important period, particularly around work-based learning where there's apprenticeships, traineeships, adult education budget, all the policies could be really good.
They're doing the right things, but we need to look at:
- The implementation, but also
- How they go into the future.
We think the providers are being more engaged, the end point assessments are being more engaged than ever before.
So, they're actually listening, the government, the officials are actually listening to what we're saying now!
We're starting to see some changes, but there needs to be some big thoughts and big shifts over the next few months.
Big challenges for SMEs
We've got challenges as we've already heard from the Federation of Small Businesses, around small businesses, young people, lower level apprenticeships. Those challenges still exist, and something needs to be done desperately.
There is not enough money coming through to support providers, to support SMEs in particular, through the contract system. Even though there's going to be a shift on the apprenticeship system we've got a problem coming next year. So, there are things like that that need to be dealt with immediately.
Big questions for next year
Then we have the bigger question of "clearly the money is going to run out next year":
- Is there going to be more money?
- Are we going to prioritise some Apprenticeships over others?
Whether it's regions, sector, level, those are really big discussion points that we need to move to very quickly, because this issue is going to be growing over the next year, and we've got the Spending Review coming.
Mark Dawe: So, an exciting period of really exciting policy, a dedicated group of providers, end point assessment organisations. The providers are employer providers, universities, ITPs, colleges, the whole range. So, they're all there, they're keen to do the right thing, but there are some big, big questions to be answered by the officials and the agencies.
Obviously at the moment there's a lot of political uncertainty, I don't need to tell anyone that. That is from the prime minister all the way down, because when a Prime Minister changes it is possible the Secretary of State will change and the Minister will change, we just don't know. So, we've got this time of political turbulence where we've got a number of things that need to be sorted out.
That's why AELP we have put down their ten-point spending plan, really for this next coming year of where the priorities are, which are about:
- Supporting the young person more
- Properly funding the new functional skills
- Making sure enough money goes to the SMEs
- Supporting apprenticeships at all levels, but making sure they're sustainable, because no one can invest the millions sometimes that are needed to develop resources and the assessment and everything, if there is uncertainty about the future
- Having the actual standards from level 2 available, so there are stepping stones through
- Considering Social mobility, as well as productivity and it's blending all of these things together
We're saying for the young person, young adult 18 to 24, they should actually receive funding to support them, bring their learning out to at least a full level 3. But if it is not classroom based but an apprenticeship, then that money should be used to enhance apprenticeship funding as well, to give some incentives to take on those young adults.
These all combine together to have a strong work-based program, developing skills at all ages, all levels, but also prioritising some of those areas where it is really important for social mobility, as well as productivity.
Mark Dawe, Chief Executive of Association of Employment and Learning Providers