Customers to be consulted over apprenticeship funding reforms
The body representing providers who train around 75 per cent of England's apprentices has welcomed the opportunity to consult its members and their employer customers on the future of apprenticeship funding.
The government has put forward a number of options including the proposal to use HMRC's PAYE system to fund employers' apprenticeship programmes. In the view of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), the proposal will come with as many potential downsides as it will with benefits.
The proposals all require new systems of funding, inspection, assessment and compliance and are in no way a simplification of the existing system. In particular, SMEs will find it hard to navigate their way around the new systems when they may only have one or two apprentices.
AELP is particularly concerned that the proposal could have a negative impact on the quality of programmes when the whole thrust of recent government-sponsored reviews of apprenticeships has focused on driving improvements in quality.
AELP was responding to the publication by BIS of a consultation on how apprenticeships should be funded in the future on the back of Doug Richard's recommendation that employers should be given more control over the funding.
The association supports the objective of increasing the involvement of employers in apprenticeship delivery and to establish the most effective system of funding that meets the needs of employers and encourages all employers to recruit and train apprentices. However, AELP points out that the Richard review put forward a number of recommendations about the future of apprenticeships which went well beyond just funding and it believes that a solution on funding cannot be agreed until we have agreed a way forward on the system itself.
AELP chief executive Stewart Segal said: "We should be considering a total review of the future of apprenticeships, which is after all what Doug Richard advocated, rather than deal with the funding options separately. AELP supports the view that funding should be more responsive to the needs of employers. "AELP will be pressing ahead with its own consultation of employers and research to try and ensure that the way forward is properly evidence-based. If we want to build on the major growth in apprenticeships over the last ten years, then it is vital that we get this reform right."