AELP: Changes needed if apprenticeship reforms are to be successful

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Written by Seun Robert-Edomi on 20 February 2014 in News

Employers need to develop the skills that will generate growth

As the economy moves out of recession, employers will need to develop the skills that will generate growth, according to the Association of Employment and Learning Providers.

The apprenticeship programme is key and  AELP wants to see changes that build on the success of the current programme.  

AELP CEO Stewart Segal told delegates today at the Apprenticeship Debate in London that providers shared the objectives of greater employer engagement and simplification of the programme but some of the current proposals would not deliver these objectives.

The proposal to fund employers directly through an HMRC system could cause major disruption by creating barriers to entry for small and medium sized businesses who won't want to deal with the resulting bureaucracy and complexity.  AELP argues strongly that employers' choice on the way they fund their apprenticeship programme should be extended, i.e. give more employers the choice of direct government funding or working with their chosen training provider.

Apprentice training providers are also warning that compulsory cash contributions from employers could put off those employers that only have a small number of apprentices. The majority of apprentices work for employers with one or two apprentices.  

The proposed funding changes will also have a negative effect on the recruitment of 16- to 18 year-old apprentices. In AELP's view, there needs to be ways to increase the opportunities for this group with additional support to ensure that employers see the benefit of recruiting young people.

The government will shortly be publishing a technical consultation on the reforms and AELP says that the consultation has to look at these and many other funding issues such as the overall management of apprenticeships budget if the funding is going to be routed through 200,000 employers. The government has already said that it may need a different system to manage funding for the 'smallest' employers and AELP believes this should apply to all those employers that have low numbers of apprentices as they will not want the associated administration. 

At the debate, AELP set out seven key recommendations for ensuring that the reforms of apprenticeships in England are a success:

 improve careers advice in schools

 improve marketing to employers through training providers

 extend the traineeship programme

 increase the involvement of employers in the development of the new standards for apprenticeships

 give more employers a choice of how their apprenticeships are funded

 simplify funding rules and make them transparent and

 establish a more responsive contract management system for employers and providers.

Stewart Segal, AELP CEO, said: "We already have an apprenticeship programme with strong employer commitment and high quality delivery. It works for all ages, in all sectors and at different levels of vocational learning - generating high satisfaction rates among employers and apprentices.  

"There is certainly more to do but the reforms as currently proposed could endanger the success and hard won credibility of apprenticeships. Therefore, we need a genuine partnership approach between government, employers, providers and others to secure further growth in the programme."     


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