From education to employment

AELP backs changes to off-the-job training rules

Ben Rowland Exclusive

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has today warmly welcomed further changes to apprenticeship rules meaning more flexibility will be allowed when delivering off-the-job training.

The changes, announced in the Department for Education’s (DfE) apprenticeship funding rules for 2024/2025, come on the back of AELP’s long-running campaigning for much more flexibility in how off-the-job training can be delivered – and can be traced back to the AELP Apprenticeship Simplification Conference in December 2022, run jointly with the DfE. The changes mean that – where an employer agrees, and a block or front-loaded training model is planned – active learning can move from taking place every calendar month to every three months.

Last year, on the back of AELP campaigning, changes were made to allow active learning to take place every calendar month rather than every 28 days to allow training to be planned around employer needs, such as over the busy Christmas period for hospitality and retail employers. From this August, this will now need to happen within a three-month period, in line with the previous AELP win of securing a move to allow greater flexibility on the delivery of additional learning support (ALS) taking place every three months where it may be required.

Learners, employers and providers have supported these moves to allow for much more flexible delivery and to reduce the number of arbitrary breaks in learning taking place. This will apply to all learners – new and existing – from 1 August 2024.

Other welcome changes in the 2024/2025 apprenticeship funding rules include: 

  • Upping the newly proposed subcontracting de minimis threshold to £100k (subject to main providers meeting criteria in regards to the ESFA subcontracting standard).
  • Flexibility within the eligibility criteria for judging apprentices’ current English and maths ability where they have a special educational need or learning difficulty or disability, including the removal of the requirement for the judgement of the apprentice’s current English and maths ability to be conducted within 8 weeks of starting.
  • The removal of co-investment has been extended to include apprentices aged between 22 and 24 years-old with an Education, Health and Care plan and/or have been in the care of their local authority.

The new set of rules comes into effect on 1 August 2024.

AELP is running a complimentary webinar on the new funding rules, sponsored by OneFile on the 7 of June, free to both members and non-members. Joining the webinar will be members of the DfE Policy Team – and more on the event can be found here.

Ben Rowland, AELP Chief Executive, said:

“I am pleased that the DfE has agreed with key AELP recommendations and has made some important changes in the new apprenticeship funding rules. By gathering and channelling the voice and experience of our members, AELP has been able to establish constructive and robust positions with the Department that have led to these changes.

“Relaxing the period in which off-the-job-training can be planned and then delivered means there’s more flexibility and will benefit learners and employers, as well as providers. The focus should be about delivering high quality training and learning rather than having to stop and replan or instigate an unnecessary break in learning. I am also pleased to see the subcontracting threshold increase and more flexibility given on judging apprentices’ English and maths ability.

“We should also applaud the DfE on their decision to extend the further removal of co-investment to include apprentices aged 22-25 with an EHCP or have been in the care of their local authority. Although the numbers affected may be small, the positive impact on those people’s lives in this will be significant. Overall, these changes show that once again, AELP is at the forefront of campaigning for positive change in the skills sector.”

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