Given the ongoing political uncertainty it is not a surprise that neither officials nor Ministers were able to lay out clear plans for the future at this year's AELP Annual Conference.
However there were some interesting presentations and thus clues to the areas of Government focus...
End Point Assessment
There was recognition that things are not yet working as smoothly as they will need to.
And some adjustments were put forward:
- A second Apprenticeship success rate will be produced. This will include the results of End Point Assessments that take place in August, September and October within the results of the Academic year before. This is in recognition of the fact that Apprenticeships might end their learning (and have their Gateway) in one AY - but they might not complete EPA until the next AY. Adding this 3 month extension would take the pressure off getting EPAs conducted by AY end.
- The ESFA presentation suggested that funding will in future be split between Training providers and EPA providers. With completion payments made directly to EPA bodies in future (rather than through providers). This has been suggested before but was withdrawn as employers did not want to take on the responsibility and administrative burden this would entail.
If these two things are enacted then it will mean providers become less responsible for the End Point Assessments.
Good news for providers perhaps, but unlikely to be popular with employers and unlikely to increase flagging success rates.…
Non levy funding
When the Minister took to the stage on day 2 the focus was inevitably on funding.
Chair Mark Dawe asked the Minister if funding becomes tight could she choose between funding Apprenticeships for Care workers and MBAs? and she said that “we want both” reiterating the Government policy of opportunities at all level and for all ages.
The Minister also repeated the ESFA line that non Levy payers will be encouraged onto the Levy payment system and will be free from the restriction of funding allocations in future.
IE SMEs will no longer have to play find the funding any longer…
There was no explanation as to how this would happen - but if it does it happen then it would solve the present funding log jam – where increasing numbers of SMEs are unable to access non levy funding,
Wot no funding rules?
Just 5 weeks before the new Academic Year there is still no sign of 2019/20 Apprenticeship funding rules – but hopefully that means there that will be nothing dramatic in them when they do appear…
Richard Marsh, Apprenticeship Partnership Director, Kaplan Financial