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76% of Apprenticeships are delivered by training providers, new AELP data reveals

More than 3 out of 4 apprenticeships (76%) are delivered by independent training providers, according to new AELP analysis of official government data obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

The true extent of the role of independent training providers (ITPs) in the delivery of the government’s flagship skills programme has until now been hidden by the sheer scale of subcontracting which is a major feature of the further education and skills system in England. To illustrate this, 40% of apprenticeship starts contracted through FE colleges are actually delivered by ITPs.

Commenting on the data findings, AELP CEO Mark Dawe said:

“The new data should leave no one in doubt that it is independent training providers who have been driving the apprenticeship agenda.  These are the providers who have had the relationships with employers and have been responsive to employers’ needs and the programme’sdevelopment.

“Therefore if the government wants the apprenticeship reforms to work, the key constituency around the table needs to be the ITPs. Of course the debate must involve employers, colleges and universities, but if you want to understand how to make an apprenticeship programme work and how to respond to employers’ and learners’ needs, then it is the providers with 79% good or better Ofsted grades and really high employer and learner satisfaction ratings that government and employers should be working with. Colleges looking to run successful apprenticeship provision in a locality should be partnering with the experts – ITPs!”

As part of its reforms, the government wants more employers offering apprenticeships and this has to include channelling the funding to the providers best placed to serve these employers. Levy payers will also be able to pick their provider of choice which is likely to change the amount of directly funded delivery.

Before the levy starts in April 2017, AELP is calling on ministers to ensure that the funding allocation system better rewards the providers who can directly deliver apprenticeship starts for both levy payers and the smaller levy-exempt businesses. The quality assurance safeguards being put in place in the form of a new register of apprenticeship providers should ensure that more direct allocations to providers who can deliver apprenticeships will result in increased programme starts without quality being compromised.

Last year, there were 499,900 starts in the apprenticeship programme and the government is aiming for an additional 100,000 starts a year to achieve the Prime

Minister’s 3 million target in this Parliament, so more employers will be needed to offer new opportunities. AELP CEO Mark Dawe said:

“Employers who are taking an interest in apprenticeships for the first time should be talking to our training provider and college members who are proven delivers of quality programmes.”

On the scale of subcontracting in the programme, Mark Dawe added:

“Subcontracting is a complex issue because many partnerships exist for good reasons, such as meeting a need for specialist training, and they serve the employer customer well. However the sheer growth of it over the last 10 years has also happened for reasons that are harder to justify. We know ministers are concerned and we think they know what needs to be done. The new levy system will still require funding allocations within a finite programme budget and it is important that much more of those allocations go to providers who can directly deliver apprenticeships.”

AELP is also calling on the Skills Funding Agency to openly publish on a yearly basis the provider delivery data that it received via the FOI request ( alongside government data already made available  at:



Contact Aidan Relf on 07710 305182 Notes to editors:

  1. Analysis of SFA apprenticeship starts data by providertype

Over three quarters (76%) of all apprenticeship starts in the 2014/15 academic year were delivered by independent training providers (ITPs). ITPs are defined as private and charitable providers. The calculation is direct and subcontracted delivery added together (avoiding any double counting), giving a total of ITP starts of 378,170 out of a grand total of 499,900.

By age band, 61% of 16-18s and 81% of 19+ starts were delivered by ITPs.

ITPs were the lead contractors for 299,000 or 60% of all 499,900 apprenticeships: they delivered 82% of these themselves and subcontracted the remaining 18%, nearly all to other ITPs. When adding subcontracting into the equation, total ITP delivery rises to 76% of all apprenticeships.

General FE Colleges were the lead contractors for 157,000 or 31% of all 499,900 apprenticeships. They delivered 20% of all apprenticeship starts in 2014/15 themselves. This comprised 94,000 direct delivery and 7,000 under subcontract. Of the 157,000 apprenticeships delivered through General FE College contracts, 40% were subcontracted to ITPs.

Of the grand total of 499,900 apprenticeship starts in the academic year 2014/15, 358,000 or 72% were directly delivered by the lead SFA contract holder and 141,000 or 28% were delivered by subcontractors.

  1. Qualityassurance

On the issue of quality, 79% of independent training providers are judged by Ofsted to be good or outstanding and a long succession of employer and learner surveys from BIS, SFA and CBI have confirmed very high satisfaction ratings with the quality of training and service received from ITPs.

  1. Subcontracting

AELP is supportive of the practice of subcontracting that leads to high quality partnership delivery. We believe that subcontracting is a vital part of any future delivery plan for apprenticeships. However AELP argues that the unchecked growth of subcontracting in recent years has resulted in a very inefficient funding system for apprenticeships that has not delivered full value for the taxpayer.

  1. About the Association of Employment and LearningProviders

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) is the leading trade association for vocational learning and employment providers in Britain. The majority of its 770 members are independent, private, not-for-profit and voluntary sector training and employment services organisations. Membership is open to any provider committed to quality provision and it includes over 40 FE colleges involved in work based learning. AELP members are estimated to deliver over 70% of England’s 872,000 apprenticeships, and are also at the forefront of Work Programme, Traineeship and Study Programme delivery.

Website: Twitter: @AELPUK

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