From education to employment

Employers and training providers join forces to call for immediate action to save the skills system

stock letter

17 training providers, employers and sector bodies have today joined The Association of Employment and Learning Providers’ (AELP) campaign to ‘Save Our Skills System’.

Previously, AELP warned that the skills sector is under immense threat due to a perfect storm of rising costs, reduced Adult Education Budget (AEB) funding, the end of the traineeship programme and an apprenticeship system where funding bands have experienced real term cuts since their introduction in 2017.

The 17 providers, employers and sector bodies have signed an open letter to the Secretary of State for Education, The Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP, calling for immediate action from the government to save the skills system or risk a situation where learners will see a drastically reduced choice in where and what they’re able to learn.

The letter warns that spiralling costs for providers combined with traineeships contracts and non-devolved adult education budget contracts ending at similar times, alongside an apprenticeship funding review system that takes far too long, has created a perfect storm. This means that training providers are on a financial cliff edge which will get worse without urgent action. This will have a massive impact on the supply side of skills, leaving learners with fewer opportunities and exacerbating skills gaps. Once high-quality established providers are lost, the reduction in capacity and expertise is very difficult and expensive to renew.

In the letter, the signatories have backed AELP’s calls for:

  • Immediate support for apprenticeship providers with an across-the-board uplift of 10% in funding for all apprenticeship standards; as well as raising the maximum government contribution above the current £27,000; and introducing a minimum government contribution of £5,000 per year across all apprenticeships.
  • A long-term plan to stabilise the skills sector, through a sustainable and integrated National Skills Strategy that identifies and properly funds the country’s skills needs.

The organisations that have signed the open letter include:

City and Guilds, Travis Perkins plc, Youth Employment UK, National Open College Network (NOCN), HIT Training Ltd, Mindful Education, Training Qualifications UK Ltd, Lifetime Training Group, Intequal, Innovate Awarding Ltd, Access Training, Performance Through People, TTE Training Limited, Aspiration Training, Remit Training, Learning Curve Group and First Rung.

AELP are asking any other employers or organisations interested in signing the open letter or joining the Save Our Skills System campaign to get in touch with AELP’s Public Affairs Manager, Ciarán Roche ().

Nichola Hay MBE, Chair of AELP, said:

“This is a real tough time for the skills sector. We are seeing regular examples of providers withdrawing from the apprenticeship market and existing training providers having to slash the range of programmes they offer as they no longer become affordable to deliver, leading to widespread redundancies – provider stability, security and market capacity are being severely impacted, and the government needs to intervene as part of its responsibilities for effective market stewardship.

“Ultimately, it is learners and employers who will lose out if this situation isn’t resolved. That’s why I’m delighted that 17 employers and training providers have joined our calls for immediate action from government to save our skills system.”

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