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Apprenticeship Survey Shows Post-Crisis Training May Be At Risk

Apprenticeship Survey Shows Post-Crisis Training May Be At Risk
16 April 2020

A second survey from the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) shows that apprenticeship providers still feel they will struggle under current COVID-19 legislation.

The AELP says that the Department for Education (DfE) is relying on the Treasury business support scheme to answer providers’ problems. However, according to their survey, only 2 providers have managed to obtain loans so far.

There were 150 responses to the survey, 131 of which were from independent training providers (ITPs), 6 from Further Education colleges and 3 from universities. In total, this represents around 81,000 apprentices and 138,000 learners on other skills programmes.


“Training providers are doing their absolute best to keep apprentices and other trainees learning in extraordinary circumstances, but we are living on borrowed time."

–Mark Dawe

Chief Executive, AELP


Efforts to prioritise online learning and assessment resources


81% of current apprentices are still actively learning after providers executed a switch to online learning and assessment resources, but the lack of support from the DfE is threatening to destroy much of the good work being done, says the AELP.

Providers have responded to the second AELP COVID-19 impact survey by saying that if no guarantees of financial support from the Department for Education DfE are forthcoming, half of them will downsize, mothball their business or shut down completely, meaning that hundreds of thousands of young people and unemployed adults will have no training available to them when the crisis is over.

As previously reported, the lockdown means that new apprenticeship programme starts with employers have in most cases ceased (there were 390,000 starts last year) and completions of existing programmes, which require an independent assessment, have also fallen sharply.

Current learners will still be funded by the government, but a huge amount of income, which depends on ongoing starts and completions, is drying up for many apprenticeship training providers who train 7 out of every 10 apprentices in England.

150 providers, colleges and universities responded to the snapshot 24-hour AELP survey and the other key findings were:


  • 43 per cent of providers are managing to train apprentices and other learners at between 80 and 100 per cent of their pre-pandemic capacity but 57% of them are training at less than 80 per cent of capacity 
  • In the vast majority of training organisations, more than three-quarters of learning provision is now being delivered remotely
  • 1 in 5 apprentices are on a break in learning, have been made redundant or have left their programme. Sectors most adversely affected appear to be health & care, early years education, hospitality & catering, and the motor trades  


What help is available?


DfE ministers have made clear that independent training providers can pursue a loan under the Treasury’s business support package if necessary.

Half of the respondents to the AELP survey have not yet applied for the loan. Only 2 providers had successfully obtained it, with 39 were still waiting to hear back from their bank. 5 had had their applications rejected and 25 found that they were not eligible  

The Cabinet Office COVID-19 supplier payment guidelines for government departments and public bodies can be read here. The AELP claim that they have been unable to identify a single example of non-compliance, other than the DfE’s refusal to apply the guidelines to apprenticeships and other skills programmes. 

The DfE has, however, applied the guidelines to grant-funded mainstream further education provided by colleges. The department has not yet supplied a reason so far for its non-compliance.

Other information on the government’s advice for both apprentices and learning providers can be found on this dedicated page

Picture: A group of students

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 16 April 2020


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