Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Tory Minister for skills, Mathew Hancock is letting down training providers in Hyndburn

I recently blogged on the fact that the Skills Minister has refused to meet with me and the North Lancashire Training Group to discuss the changes that the Government is planning to make to the way apprenticeships are funded.

They are concerned that their sucecss story will be undermined if funding for apprenticeshuips is switched to businesses instead of directly to them for two principle reasons. It will create huge instability and insecurity for training providers unable to plan and importantly invest.NLTG have invested £millions in state of teh art facilities but can only do so in the knowledge that their services will be bought on a scale they are now.

Secondly smaller firms cannot and won't take on apprenticeships because of the safeguards, paperwork, planning and red tape involved in taking responsibility for apprenticeship provision.

As a result I laid down a number of Parliamentary Questions to get some answers on why the Government was insistent on consulting on changes which the vast majority of training providers do not support. My question was reported in the newsletter of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, and I am glad to see that my line of enquiry has their support.

This Tory led government is an ideologically led government. What is best in reality is not a question which concerns them.

I have since been contacted by other training providers from across the country, notably the Electrical Contractors’ Association who provide apprenticeships to thousands of young people.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that these changes need to be seriously looked at, and that those who wish to continue with the existing model should be given the opportunity to do so.

Labour whip asks why provider payment model wasn't included in latest Apprenticeship funding consultation

Responding to a question from Labour whip Graham Jones, who asked why allowing employers wishing to continue with the current funding arrangements had not been included as an option, Skills minister Matthew Hancock stated, “The Apprenticeships Funding Reform Technical Consultation sought evidence on the practical implications for employers of two new systems for routing apprenticeship funding: the PAYE model and the Apprenticeship Credit. The practical implications of the current system are already well understood, therefore we did not include this in the technical consultation. We are giving careful consideration to all feedback received, before announcing our next steps in the autumn”.

From the start AELP has argued for the retention of the provider route and giving employers the choice of provider or direct funding. This position is increasingly being taken up and supported across the sector as the full implications of the proposed reforms become clearer and we hope the minister will listen and give careful consideration to the growing concern being voiced about the loss of the provider route as the plans for implementing the reforms are developed.