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More apprenticeship training proposals

Greg Wade

Greg Wade

Programme Manager
Universities UK

Earlier this summer, I wrote a blog previewing the range of English apprenticeship policy announcements we were expecting in July, and a checklist of things to look out for.

 

There has been no let-up in this area, with more apprenticeship-related announcements in August (many of them seeking responses by 5 September).

 

It is worth doing a round-up of these latest announcement, using the same checklist approach:

 

Employers wanting to deliver their own apprenticeship training

 

An employer-provider guide has now been issued. Universities will be providing higher level apprenticeships to others, but might also want to provide apprenticeship training to their own staff, the key issue is whether these will also be higher level apprenticeships.

 

All providers will need to register with the proposed new register of apprenticeship training providers (see below), although providers that only train their own employees will be classified as employer-providers and it is proposed that they have a different route onto the register.

 

The biggest issue for universities wanting to train their own employees as apprentices is the need for there to be an Ofsted inspection. Given that it has been accepted that there is no need for Ofsted inspection when universities provide higher level apprenticeships to other employers, it must make sense that this should also apply when they provide higher level apprenticeships to their own employees.

 

Universities need to respond clearly to the consultation on this point.

 

A range of issues are covered in the apprenticeship funding proposals, and responses to their online survey are required by 5th September.

 

Equivalent or lower qualifications (ELQ)

 

These rules are crucial to the successful development of apprenticeships for universities and other employers that either recruit, or already have a highly qualified workforce. The proposals confirm existing rules that funds can be spent on individuals to undertake an apprenticeship at a higher level than a qualification they already hold.

 

The crucial rule is in paragraph 50 which proposes that an individual can be funded to undertake an apprenticeship at the same or lower level than a qualification they already hold, if the apprenticeship will allow the individual to acquire substantive new skills and the content of the training is materially different from any prior training or a previous apprenticeship. This is a key change that will be crucial to enabling universities to invest their funds in recruiting apprentices and developing their existing staff.

 

Co-investment rates for non-levy payers

 

There has been a substantial increase in government generosity. In the current system the employer needs to find a third of the cost of the apprenticeship, the proposals suggest reducing this to 10%. This could provide a substantial boost to getting SMEs engaged in apprenticeships.

 

Changes to the funding bands

 

The proposals suggest 15 funding bands with the top band remaining at £27,000, a common point for most degree apprenticeships. Details are also provided of what the proposals mean for individual apprenticeship standards from May 2017.

 

Incentives for particular groups

 

Details of the incentives for younger apprentices and for care leavers and those who have an Education, Health and Care plan are included in the proposals.

 

Nations

 

The proposals make it clear that where their workforce lives will determine what proportion of the levy levy-payers in England will get back in the form of the digital voucher. However, where their workforce works will determine whether or not the employer can use the digital voucher to support an apprenticeship. This will impact on employers close to the Scottish/Welsh borders.

 

Guide for providers

 

The biggest new proposal here is the new register of apprenticeship training providers. All providers will now have to join this new register, even if they are already on the existing register of training providers, which has been difficult enough for some universities to join.

 

It is very positive that it proposes accepting HEFCE assurance for the financial health test and it proposes accepting evidence from QAA reviews for quality, capacity and capability tests. However, there is the need for the register to be designed and operated with the full range of possible providers in mind. Responses to a survey on the new register are required by 5 September.

 

Sub-contracting

 

The proposals for the new register also go into detail about sub-contracting and in particular propose a range of new restrictions. This could have implications for a number of universities who collaborate with further education colleges in the delivery of higher and degree apprenticeships.

 

We hope the consultations receive a good response-rate from universities.

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