Richard Marsh, Apprenticeship Partnership Director: Kaplan Financial

Kaplan response: Institute for Apprenticeships draft Quality Statement

We have decided to publish our response to this consultation because:

  1. we feel that it is important that there is public debate about this key apprenticeship document (the Quality Statement)
  2. several of our clients have asked us make representation on their behalf and would welcome a wider dissemination of their views

Overall Kaplan and our clients welcome the updated quality statement.

We are pleased that it is not radically different from previous statements and that it reconfirms the core definition of an apprenticeship as being “a job with training to industry standards”.

It is also positive in that it specifically states the importance of ‘on the job training’ as well as ‘off the job’. This is important as the ESFA funding rules have made employers nervous about contributing to their own apprentice’s training (on the job) – potentially reducing the effectiveness of many programmes and putting some employers off altogether.

This quality statement also implicitly confirms that apprenticeships are valued and supported for; all ages, new and existing employees and at all academic levels (where required). This is also important and helpful as some commentators still describe apprentices as being most valuable for younger workers.

Suggested amendments

Based on feedback from clients we have made 3 suggestions:

  • The statement seems to only cover the new standards[i]# Kaplan only ‘do’ new standards but the vast majority of apprentices are still on ‘frameworks’. We appreciate that IFA wants Frameworks to fade-away over the next 2 years but it is unlikely they will disappear completely and so leaves the majority of learners uncovered in the meantime.
  • It would be helpful if the 20% off the job requirement only related to the 12 month compulsory duration. Allowing a more flexible approach for longer duration apprenticeships – especially where there is a long delay between the end of training (Gateway) and the EPA, where training may no longer be required.
  • Further clarification of how the Oftsed / QAA cross-over works for an FE provider (not a HEI) delivering a degree-level apprenticeship and for an employer delivering part of their apprentices training (but where the provider is the ‘prime’).

Quality indicators

We are also supportive of the publication of the macro-level Quality Indicators. However we do not think that converting them into ‘targets’ would help – the track record of targets in FE is not a good one (see any NAO review).

The inclusion of the word industry in the core statement ‘a job with training to industry standards’ is also important to highlight. And it is vital that we seek the views of the Industry paying for the training, as well as using central Government measures.

Thus we feel that it would worth adding an ‘industry view’ indicator to the range of Quality indicators suggested. This could be achieved using the existing FE choices apprentice employer satisfaction survey for example. Asking employers what they think of their apprenticeships would reveal any mismatch between the Oftsed / IFA / ESFA view and the Employer view and help achieve a more rounded evaluation.

EU still with us

Co-incidentally the EU released its long awaited quality statement on apprenticeships last week too. They have suggested 14 ‘rules’ for adoption by members, including one to limit off the job training to 80%! (ie. .making sure that apprentices are working for at least 1 day per week….) Another of their indicators I found interesting was that ‘all Apprenticeships must lead to a nationally recognised qualification’, which I personally agree with wholeheartedly.

However I suspect that boat has already sailed for us…

Richard Marsh, Apprenticeship Partnership Director: Kaplan Financial

[i] # IE it specifies a 2 page description and EPA etc

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