Collaboration, communication, and clarity: a Joint statement from @ESFAgov @AoC_info & @AELPUK on strengthening relationships and enhancing communications between training providers and the Education and Skills Funding Agency
Peter Mucklow, Director of Apprenticeships, ESFA
We all know that apprenticeships will have an important role to play in creating employment opportunities, particularly for young people, and supporting employers in all sectors to access the skilled workforce they need to recover and grow post-Covid-19.
In the last three months, organisations have had to recalibrate how they interact, communicate and respond quickly to their employees, customers, stakeholders, and supply chains. Government – and in particular the Department for Education and Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) - is no exception to that.
We have introduced a broad range of flexibilities to ensure that apprentices can continue with their learning, as far as possible. These include encouraging the remote delivery of training, allowing changes to be made to end-point assessment, and removal of the requirement that level 2 apprentices should work towards or sit their level 2 English and maths GCSE or functional skills exams this academic year.
Since my appointment as Director of Apprenticeships, I have been immensely proud of the tenacity and adaptability of our innovative provider base, employers of all sizes, apprentices, end-point assessment organisations and wider stakeholders in dealing admirably to the situation we find ourselves in.
However, I can see opportunities for improvement in how we work with you all. A great apprenticeship requires an equal contribution from employers, apprentices and providers. As we look to develop and deliver a recovery package to support employers, individuals and the economic recovery, I want to strengthen how the Apprenticeships Directorate works with all apprenticeship providers.
I want collaboration to be the ‘golden thread’ that permeates through all our relationships for the benefit of apprentices and employers.
I want early and meaningful communication and engagement with the sector about our plans. Trusted communication is two-way and I want to focus more on bringing our providers closer together with the ESFA through greater - and more productive - partnerships on the ground.
Finally, I want a greater clarity about the future of apprenticeships; a common understanding of the clear benefits and value that apprenticeships bring to employers, apprentices, local communities, and the economy.
Collaboration, communication, and clarity. That’s my commitment to the sector.
We have already made constructive progress in this area through early discussions with AELP, the AoC, and provider network groups as part of this new approach. I am delighted that together, we can reach out to you all, to share our commitment widely.
I look forward to strong partnerships in a shared endeavour that the apprenticeship programme can make a significant mark in supporting the economic recovery post this pandemic; and that we have strong future for the programme.
David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges (AoC)
I’m pleased that ESFA recognises the partnerships it needs to forge with colleges and other providers. An apprenticeship is a complex animal, requiring joined-up action and commitment from the apprentice themselves, alongside the employer, the college or training provider and government. Reflecting that collaboration is important in communications and policy.
Mark Dawe, Chief Executive, Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP)
AELP is delighted to have had constructive conversations with ESFA and welcomes this announcement by Peter Mucklow which offers greater collaboration, communication and clarity, as we work together on making apprenticeships a vital component of the economic recovery.
Having performed miracles to keep thousands of apprentices learning remotely during the lockdown, providers are now facing the challenge of keeping apprentices in employment as the furlough scheme ends and AELP knows that they will pull out all the stops in doing so. We also want to generate new opportunities and this means encouraging employers to look at the benefits of the programme.
As Peter says, this can only happen if there is a common understanding between ESFA, AoC and AELP, working with the local provider groups, on the messages to employers, apprentices and other stakeholders such as parents and teachers.
The pandemic has reminded us that out of adversity comes opportunity, and AELP sees this new approach from the ESFA as a fresh chapter in collaboration which should help transform the skills landscape across the country.
This joint letter has been issued by:
- Peter Mucklow, Director of Apprenticeships, ESFA
- David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges (AoC)
- Mark Dawe, Chief Executive, Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP)