ESFA have today (9 Aug) updated their apprenticeship funding and performance management rules for 2018 to 2019.
ESFA have also said:
"Our aim is for all employers to take more ownership of their apprenticeships and access the full range of high quality training provision on offer. We believe that the best way to do this is through the apprenticeship service.
"We had planned that all employers would be able to use the apprenticeship service to access apprenticeship funding from April 2019.
"Having listened to feedback about the scale and pace of the apprenticeship reforms that we have introduced since May 2017, we want to make sure that future changes are introduced in a gradual, well-managed way. This is to give time for employers and training providers to prepare to take full advantage of the new approach and to keep stability in the marketplace.
"To ensure a more gradual transition, we will extend current contracts for training providers delivering training for employers that do not pay the apprenticeship levy for 12 months, from April 2019 to March 2020.
"Over the summer, we will work closely with employers and training providers to plan what a gradual transition should look like. We will provide further details in the autumn, including what this will mean for providers with existing contracts and plans to develop the apprenticeship service for all employers."
In response AELP chief policy officer Simon Ashworth said:
‘On balance this is probably a sensible decision in the sense that we don’t want the government to move to a new funding system in April 2019 which hasn’t been properly thought through and might lead to further instability. At the same time, we are acutely aware that this is not going to go down well at all with those good quality providers who weren’t awarded a non-levy contract at the end of 2017 and therefore we are keen to work with the ESFA to try and find a way to get these providers back into the non-levy market as soon as possible. Many of these providers are currently having to unnecessarily subcontract and we have already highlighted how some primes are taking advantage of this through inappropriately high fees meaning less funding is making it to the front line.
‘AELP still maintains that a minimum annual budget of £1bn is needed to meet SME demand for apprenticeships.’