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Apprenticeship Providers Call For Action From Department For Education

Apprenticeship Providers Call For Action From Department For Education
01 April 2020
 

Apprenticeship training providers are being forced to either close or mothball their operations, leaving thousands of apprentices across England unable to start or complete their programmes.

According to The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), their members train 7 out of every 10 apprentices in England, and their provision won’t be easily replaced when the pandemic is over.

“My message to the DfE is simple: Guarantee April’s funding for apprenticeships and other work based programmes to allow time for us all to sort through the details of how a sustainable funding model might work.”

–Mark Dawe

Chief Executive, AELP  

Apprenticeships at risk?

 

Whilst the Department for Education (DfE)  has guaranteed continued funding for further education and grant-funded colleges, it has ignored the guidelines in respect of apprenticeships and other vocational skills programmes, leaving training providers on the brink of collapse.

The AELP maintain that closures will occur as direct result of the DfE’s refusal to comply with Cabinet Office COVID-19 guidelines, which require all government departments and public bodies to pay their contracted suppliers during the crisis.

At the request of their local providers, MPs are now writing to DfE ministers asking why they have singled out the government’s flagship skills programme for non-compliance.

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) stresses that guaranteeing funding for apprenticeships does not require the DfE to request any new money from the Treasury because the programme budget for 2020-21 has already been allocated.

 

“Heartbreaking” survey results from 279 apprenticeship providers

 

After the DfE announcement on apprenticeship funding last Monday evening (23 March),  AELP launched a survey of its members, collecting responses from 279 providers of all types, including 12 colleges. 

According to the survey results, 49 institutions feel that they might close altogether; 79 expect to mothball and 154 will downsize.

If this were to happen, 52,000 young people and adults will lose their apprenticeship and other learning provision as a result of the closures and another 60,000 learners could be adversely affected by the mothballing.

The survey responses were described as “heartbreaking” by AELP’s CEO, Mark Dawe.

Examples of provider quotes from the survey include:

  • “1,500 of our apprentices cannot complete this year as no exams and functional skills provision. Told ESFA territory manager that we will have to hand 500 apprentices over to them at the end of April.”
  • “We can't operate our traineeship or study programmes. They are disadvantaged learners 4 x more likely to be on free school meals. It has proven almost impossible to implement digital learning when they live on the breadline. We are keeping phone contact but they are unable to attend work placements or engage in meaningful learning.”
  • “It has taken five years to build a team of loyal, dedicated, hard-working and qualified people so laying people off would not only throw away those years of investment, but it would make it very difficult to continue after this period. Furlough is an opportunity to retain staff but it won't give us the capacity to continue.”

AELP chief executive Mark Dawe said:

“These survey results are from last Wednesday and in the absence of any further action from the DfE since then, the situation in terms of mothballing and potential shutdowns has worsened. Action on funding apprenticeships and other important skills programmes is needed right now if the government seriously wants this year’s school-leavers and unemployed adults who need retraining after the crisis to have apprenticeships available to them.”

“The normal protocols on making representations to ministers have had to be suspended and I have asked the current DfE ministers if they want to be the ones remembered for throwing hundreds of training providers, rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, on to the scrapheap. All they have to do is follow the Cabinet Office guidelines and use the money already sitting in the DfE.

“My message to the DfE is simple: Guarantee April’s funding for apprenticeships and other work-based programmes to allow time for us all to sort through the details of how a sustainable funding model might work.”

The full AELP survey results can be accessed here.

Picture: Apprenticeship training providers are being forced to either close or mothball their operations, leaving thousands of apprentices across England unable to start or complete their programmes.​

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 01 April 2020

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