Skills minister John Hayes has asked the Association of Learning Providers (ALP) to produce a “five point plan” to help cut unnecessary red tape while keeping standards high.
In their first regular meeting with Mr Hayes since the General Election, chairman Martin Dunford and chief executive Graham Hoyle confirmed that work was already underway – based on opinions that members had been articulating for many years.
According to ALP, in spite of constrained finances, the government is committed to creating further Apprenticeship places.
This comes in the wake of Mr Hayes’ successful retention of £150m originally within the Train to Gain budget and FE reinvestment that will see 50,000 new 19-plus Apprenticeship places this financial year.
The skills minister also asked ALP for its thoughts on the proposed introduction of functional skills this autumn.
Although ALP is not opposed to the concept, Mr Hoyle warned that proposed testing arrangements were “nowhere near” being fit for purpose.
“The Minister listened very intently to the ALP views on this important topic, including our suggestion for ‘dual running’ until new arrangements were demonstrably ready for implementation,” said Mr Hoyle.
“We look forward to some early clarity on this important issue at least confident in the knowledge that the Minister has heard, listened to and understood providers’ views on this important issue.”
In the meeting, Mr Hayes also acknoweledged the influence that ALP papers and advice had on his perception over the last year as he underlined the importane of independent providers in delivering the government’s skills agenda.
Last week also saw one of ALP’s founding fathers being awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his distinguished service to training.
Hugh Pitman, former chairman of JHP Group, one of the biggest providers of apprenticeships, helped to set up ALP in 2000.
Through JLP’s network of more than 50 business centres, the group offers a wide range of work-based and job-seeker training for adults and young people alike.
Mr Hoyle said: “Hugh has been an undoubted champion of vocational learning and his dedication to helping thousands of young people to find a purposeful career is almost unsurpassed in the further education and training sector.
“Hugh’s role in setting up ALP as its first chairman can also not be underestimated. He was one of the first to recognise that providers of vocational learning needed a much stronger voice in Whitehall if skills were to assume a higher profile in terms of government priorities.
“The fact that apprenticeships and learning budgets for 16-19 year olds have grown significantly and have been protected in the recent spending cuts is testament to the progress made over the past ten years and the influence now being exerted.”