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    The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) have extended the deadline for the new procurement exercise for apprenticeship training to non-levy paying employers. Potential bidders now have until noon on Friday 8 September to submit their bids.

    The provider market has shown considerable interest in the procurement exercise and ESFA have been responding to an unprecedented number of queries from the sector. ESFA have therefore provided a number of clarifications based on requests for information.

    ESFA want to ensure that all providers get the opportunity to take into account the clarifications so they can submit high-quality bids.

    There has been no change to the procurement arrangements.The extension will not impact on the rest of the procurement delivery timetable and they will still be awarding contracts in December for a January 2018 start.

    The new procurement has been designed to ensure the Department for Education (DfE) and ESFA can better meet their objectives to deliver high-quality apprenticeship training to support the growth and success of the small and medium sized enterprises that play such a vital role in our economy.

    This follows on from the cancellation of a previous exercise which was markedly oversubscribed and did not achieve the right balance between stability of provision, promoting competition and offering choice for employers.

    There are a number of critical differences between the new procurement and the old one, including:

    • new tender value caps and contract award limits to ensure greater confidence that awards are set at realistic levels
    • awards in line with current levels of geographical delivery in the 9 English regions
    • improved scoring criteria and evaluation methodology
    • the ability to grow above award values in year, subject to a number of conditions

    This will be a highly competitive exercise, which will attract interest from a wide range of training providers.

    Providers will be expected to submit high-quality bids, which fully demonstrate their capabilities in accordance with the published criteria, in order to have the potential to be successful.

    New contracts awarded as a result of this procurement will run from January 2018 to March 2019. In April 2019, ESFA aim to bring all employers onto the apprenticeship service enabling all employers to able to choose any provider from the register of apprenticeship training providers directly to deliver their apprenticeship training.

    The new procurement will not affect training provision for existing learners. As the ESFA have extended contracts for training providers until December 2017, employers can be confident in taking on new apprentices without disruption over the months ahead.

    While the new procurement exercise is open, the register of apprenticeship training providers will not re-open for new applications.

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