Tony Allen, CEO AAS Ltd.

Last month in FE News I wrote about RoATP and what I thought might happen re it reopening to new applicants.

In that article, "RoATP - Where are we going?" I thought that we might not see a full re-opening of the register for a year, namely until the current refresh process is completed.

Well now we know at least what is happening during that year.

In simple terms, that other than as an Levy paying Employer Provider, getting onto the RoATP is going to be pretty much impossible for the vast majority of applicants.

The ESFA told us on the 9th August that the Critical Worker exemption linked to Covid was to end on the 15th August, and that from the 16th a new process for applications would be set out.

These would need to be linked to ‘unmet employer demand’ We now know what that means in detail.

In practical terms the new process will be a version of the Critical Worker exemption. In order for a new provider to attempt to join the register they must first recognise that this new process is employer led, and not initiated by them.

So they will need to:

  1. Find an employer who wishes them to deliver their apprenticeship training.
  2. Ask the employer to log their training need on the ‘find an apprenticeship’ website
  3. Wait for 42 working days (over 8 weeks) for existing training providers to respond.
  4. If an existing provider responds, then the employer will be expected to use that provider, or come up with a very good reason why not.
  5. Only if there is no response from an existing RoATP provider (ie there is no training available, or there is training available, but no registered provider is able to deliver it) can the employer then nominate a preferred training provider to join the register.

They must then contact the ESFA, and they (still the employer!) will be asked to complete a business case detailing the gap in provision and the name of their preferred training provider. If the ESFA are happy with the business case (and they may refuse it) the preferred training provider will be contacted with details of how to make an application to the register within 30 days.

So, we now have an employer driven approach, dependent upon there being no existing provider who is able to deliver the training, or at least for the employer to say why any existing provider is not able to deliver the training to them.

There is an alternative route available for Levy paying Employer Providers, who have to submit their own business case (without trying to find someone else or waiting 42 working days). The case is reviewed and if successful, they will be allowed to apply. In other words a simpler system than for an independent training provider with aspirations to joint the register.

So what is actually going on here?

Last month, I said that that the ESFA had four objectives in mind with the RoATP refresh process, and the now heavily restricted application process.

These are:

  1. Reduce the number of providers on the register
  2. Improve the quality of provision
  3. Improve sector knowledge and experience.
  4. Remove dormant providers

To this list, I will now add a fifth objective: Not allow those on where there is existing provision.

I have no doubt that this format for entry to RoATP will be in place until at least next summer, ie until the refresh process currently underway is complete, and we know the size and make up of the new RoATP

The implications of this for the next year are now clear:

  • There will be a negative impact on Employer choice, with increasingly fewer providers, as the rate leaving RoATP is significantly greater than the very few joining.
  • There will be fewer Independent Training Providers. Colleges will be exempt from any radical action, however poor their quality. They will be allowed to remain on RoATP. Therefore we will in reality. see a cull of the private sector.
  • More Employer Providers. Levy Paying Employers who are not currently a provider are clearly being encouraged to deliver their own training. This is part of the DfE strategy. Their route in should not be that difficult. Their business case can be personalised to really make it look important to the needs of the business. Any half-decent consultant could pull together a convincing case for them!

In two years time, we will have:

  • A smaller register with, I believe, significantly fewer ITPs as the refresh process removes more than most people think!
  • More employer providers
  • Same number of colleges
  • Fewer sub-contractors, as current policy towards subcontracting takes effect and the ability that existing subcontractors have at refresh to apply as a main provider (many will do this at their peril, and find themselves off the register!)

Do the ESFA have the balance right?

Let’s see what happens in 2022. An expected upturn in apprenticeships this autumn, could just collide head on with a significant reduction in the number of providers on RoATP. Watch out next year for complaints from employers re a lack of choice / quality!

Tony Allen, CEO, AAS Ltd

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

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