The Board of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has decided that AELP should formally withdraw from the sector ownership of the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) and that AELP should give up its representation on the ETF Board with immediate effect.

The Board carefully considered AELP’s continued involvement in the ETF following a review of the Foundation’s mission and information received about its future direction of travel and narrower remit agreed between the Department for Education (DfE) and the ETF’s leadership.

AELP recognises that the DfE is the primary funder of the ETF, but the received information suggests that the Foundation is no longer an organisation run by the FE and skills sector for the sector. Unfortunately in our view, the ETF is now little different from the government improvement agencies that preceded it and failed (FEDA, LSDA, QIA and LSIS), not helped by the fact that its new remit appears almost exclusively focused on mainstream FE provision. This is in stark contrast to the original aims of John Hayes, the former skills minister behind the ETF’s establishment, who wrote in a ministerial foreword of July 2012 that it was ‘crucial’ that the new body should be “truly of the sector, by the sector and for the sector”.

Following the recent review, the ETF’s highly successful Future Apprenticeships programme is being discontinued at a time when the levy has got off to a less than auspicious start, there are hundreds of new providers in the apprenticeship market and most of the workforce in the sector is having to change and develop. AELP is therefore bewildered and extremely frustrated that a strong focus on work based learning, including apprenticeships, will now be absent under the Foundation’s new remit.

The AELP Board is disappointed that it has had to arrive at its decision. The sector owned concept behind the Foundation’s creation was much better than the ones previously established. As its annual reviews have testified, some of the ETF programmes have been very effective. However in the light of recent developments and despite the best efforts of the AELP’s nominated Trustees on the ETF Board to secure a better outcome to the body’s review, the AELP Board feels it best for all concerned that AELP withdraws from the Foundation’s governance.

The Board will be happy for AELP to explore working with the ETF when the Foundation is offering programmes that are relevant to our members and on terms that reflect the input of AELP and its regional networks. In the meantime, the Board believes that the DfE should provide AELP members directly or through AELP the share of ETF funding work based learning providers deserve to purchase CPD for their workforce which will make a difference in achieving the government’s overall aims of improving UK productivity, driving forward social mobility and satisfying any post-Brexit labour market shortages.

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