Anne Milton MP, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills

At this year's AoC Conference The Rt Hon Anne Milton MP, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, discusses with FE News some of the pressing issues around Further Education and Skills.

This includes the importance of College and Training Provider Collaboration, Subcontracting, and whether or not Training Providers need an A-Team, supporting them in providing quality delivery, in a similar way to how the FE Commissioner supports Colleges.

What Are Your Views on Collaboration Between Colleges and Training Providers?

I think where there is opportunity, that in this day and age where the calls on tax payer’s money are huge. Everybody wants a bit. The more you can collaborate, the more you can work together the better.

Premises is the obvious one sometimes, setting up provision jointly, is another area that could be done. The more you collaborate, generally the greater the opportunity for reducing costs.

It has to be said that some training providers offer very unique, niche training. You don’t want to take that away, so I wouldn’t have a blueprint for it, I think it is up to colleges to think about that.

FE Colleges are like the anchor in their community, and so I would like to see that strengthened.

What Are Your Views on Subcontracting Around Colleges and Training Providers?

The chair of the Education Select Committee (Robert Halfon) would like to get rid of subcontracting.

But, actually there are niche providers that do training provision, so I don’t think you can get rid of it. I think people need to be mindful of it, and the management charges they put in place.

So, if it is being done well, and the main provider is going out and getting the business and all the rest of it, and they’re actually doing something for their percentage of the fee, that’s fair enough. But it is something that continues to be of concern to me.

Are There Plans for Training Providers to Have an A-Team?

The Colleges have got the FE Commissioner who has intervened 29 times, which is 29 opportunities to nip a problem in the bud. Are there plans for Training Providers to have a similar function to stop problems, that we had at 3aaa for example?

The Independent Training Provider market has expanded quite significantly, reviewing the register is going to be quite an important thing in that sector. A lot of training providers are dormant on the register.

We’ve had Learndirect, we’ve had 3aaa. One was a high quality provider, with problems with finance, the other was low quality, but with no suggestions of any problems with finance.

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We need to learn those lessons. It is absolutely uppermost in my mind to get that sector effective and efficient, but also making sure that we have sufficient oversight on what they do. The oversight hasn’t been quite good enough.

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The Apprentice and Employer live reporting, which was my idea, so I love it! It is actually a really good way of getting live information about where there is a problem.

You can keep all the figures and data that you want, but that sort of live reporting is what can give you a really good early indication of where you should go in and find out what is going on.

Anne Milton, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills

Despite best endeavours to ensure accuracy, text based on transcription may contain errors which could alter the intended meaning of any portion of the reported content. Speakers have not had the opportunity for any corrections.

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