The government is in serious danger of undermining its own social mobility agenda unless it acts quickly to address significant bias in its apprenticeship reform programme and provide a boost to the number of traineeships available to young people.
In a major policy submission published by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), training providers report that employers are reducing recruitment young apprentices aged under 19 and at lower rungs of the apprenticeship ladder before they can progress upwards.  In fact official government data revealed last week that only 15% of apprentices taken on since May of this year have been aged 16 to 18. 
This is because the new levy funding system for apprenticeships has generated a perverse set of incentives which encourage employers to focus their programmes on adults and at management level instead.  But they also result in adults being given fewer opportunities in lower level apprenticeships to improve their skills.    
The AELP paper says that people from disadvantaged backgrounds are let down by provision for improving their English and maths within an apprenticeship being funded at only half the classroom rate.
Many small businesses are resisting engagement in the apprenticeship programme since the new regime required them to make cash contributions towards the cost of the training and assessment, while employers of all sizes are frustrated with a new rule requiring that the off-the-job training within an apprenticeship must take up at least 20% of normal working hours.  These include NHS Trusts and commercial companies who say that they can’t afford to lose ‘productive’ workers for so long.
Despite positive comments from ministers and the Social Mobility Commission about its effectiveness, the government seems reluctant to commit the necessary funding to remove the shackles from the traineeship programme which places many young people often from the so-called NEET group in apprenticeships or sustainable employment. 

AELP has therefore presented in its submission 14 issues that need to be addressed if the obstacles to social mobility are to be removed.

MarkDawe 100x100AELP CEO Mark Dawe said:

The message came out from Downing Street over the summer that social mobility was still the number one priority for the government after securing a good deal for Brexit.  Education ministers therefore need to get a firm grip on the apprenticeship reforms to stop a potential haemorrhaging of young talent missing out on opportunities that employers were previously willing to offer.  The adult workforce needs apprenticeships too for business to meet the skills challenge.

No big shake of the money tree is required to get these reforms on track but ministers do need to conduct a major reappraisal of where their priorities lie with apprenticeships if they are signed up to the Prime Minister’s agenda.

The 14 points for the government to address are:
  1. We believe that all 16-18 apprentices should be fully funded by the government, regardless of whether they are employed by a micro employer, an SME or a levy paying employer.
  2. The equalisation of funding for all apprentices of all ages leads to more older apprentices being selected.
  3. The compulsory employer contribution is a disincentive to hire an apprentice especially when additional work is required to support the most disadvantaged apprentices or younger apprentices with less initial work and life experience.
  4. Employers say that the rigid implementation of 20% off-the-job training is “reducing our recruitment of level 2 apprentices”.
  5. Training time for maths and English is required in addition to the mandatory off-the-job training with the least able apprentices placing the heaviest burden on employers.
  6. Provider funding for maths and English in apprenticeships is miserly at only 50% of the classroom rate, below the cost of delivery and provides no incentive to take on the most challenging individuals.  Failure of maths or English leads to failure of the apprenticeship.
  7. The replacement of the previous sound system of disadvantage funding significantly reduces the funding for the individuals.
  8. There are still funding and performance monitoring disincentives with Traineeships, an important transition programme, inhibiting their much needed growth and development.
  9. Employer and provider young person incentives set at a flat rate of £1,000 rather than a proportion of the funding band are disadvantaging the longer more expensive programmes.
  10. Levy paying employers are prioritising existing employees for apprenticeships instead of recruiting new entrants and giving young people an opportunity, further restricting opportunities for young people.
  11. Levy paying employers are also prioritising higher and degree level apprenticeships over intermediate and advanced levels which are vital starting points for the young, the inexperienced and the disadvantaged.   
  12. ESFA is encouraging a shift in focus from SMEs and small employers to larger levy paying employers.
  13. Minimum contracting threshold of £200k, without allowing consortium bidding, as precluded around 300 existing providers from bidding in the recent non-levy apprenticeship funding tender and could also impact a further 200 through a pro-rata award due to oversubscription. Many of these training providers are niche specialists with many years’ experience of working with smaller employers and offering apprenticeships in their locality, supporting young and disadvantaged apprentices.
  14. Removal of nationally recognised qualifications from apprenticeship standards further reduces the mobility of the apprentice.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 6 hours 18 minutes ago

RT @FENews: Committed to mental health – University Centre Leeds becomes early adopter of new charter: University Centre Leeds (@UniCentreL…
View Original Tweet

Alicia has published a new article: Teachers: Our Unsung Heroes of 2021 8 hours 29 minutes ago
william bradley commented on The Importance of Social-Emotional Learning with At-Risk Students 11 hours 6 minutes ago

SEL is helpful to both children and adults, increasing self-awareness,...

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page