AELP welcomes recommendation of best practice adoption
The Association of Employment and Learning Providers has welcomed the recommendation from the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) that lead providers should refer to the sector's Common Accord and follow best practice on contracting out skills training to other providers.
AELP also supports the inclusion of new rules on subcontracting in the SFA's funding rules for 2013-14 which require greater transparency and encourage more accountability on how public money is being spent on training.
Jointly developed by AELP and the Association of Colleges (AoC) under a sector-led approach, the Common Accord for supply chain management will require its provider signatories to commit supply chains to making sure that the learner receives the maximum benefit from the arrangement. Providers will also agree to be guided by the principles given in the LSIS publication "Supply Chain Management - a good practice guide for the post-16 skills sector".
The Accord and the good practice guide tackle two major concerns that have arisen in the sector over the last 18 months in relation to supply chain delivery of SFA-funded skills training: the identification of some instances of inadequate due diligence being undertaken by lead providers on subcontractors and whether a lead provider's management fee has always reflected the actual costs of services being provided to the subcontractor.
The guide also addresses not just how a partnership arrangement should ideally be set up but how the ongoing relationship should be effectively managed, including a two-way flow of sharing advice and best practice between the respective partners.
The SFA is backing the sector's proposals by inserting in its funding rules for 2013-14 a requirement for all lead providers to publish on their websites from August 2013 an 'upfront' fees and costs policy. Providers must also publish the amount of funding retained by the lead in respect of each subcontracting relationship alongside the SFA funding received by each lead for provision delivered by subcontractors.
Graham Hoyle, AELP chief executive, said: "I am confident that the Common Accord and the good practice guide will to help providers and colleges minimise the risk within supply chains, ensuring that they offer high-quality provision for employers and learners.
"AELP and AoC have worked closely to promote our sector's willingness to share good practice and our ability to continue to learn from each other. If the good practice exemplified in the guide is embedded in supply chains throughout the post-16 learning and skills sector, then the government and its agencies can be confident that they are getting good value from the public purse."