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Training providers pleased with government move towards giving employers ‘purchasing power’ over the Apprenticeship programme

Association of Employment and Learning Providers

3 min read Partner content

The government has today confirmed that the Apprenticeship funding consultation (The Future of Apprenticeships in England: Funding Reform Technical Consultation, March 2014), shows strong evidence that employers do not support the methodology of funding employers directly.

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has been consistent in its responses to government policy announcements that employers want to be more engaged in the management and delivery of their Apprenticeship programmes but they do not want to be tied up in the administration and funding of the programme.

AELP is pleased that the government has moved away from the concept of direct funding to giving employers ‘purchasing power’. AELP has put forward the concept of giving purchasing power to employers because with purchasing power comes employer choice.

We are pleased that this government has heard the voice of employers, especially smaller employers and will now focus on the development of the new standards through the Trailblazer programme. Many employers have been involved in this process but we need to ensure the Trailblazer process is coordinated so that we move towards a coherent set of standards covering all sectors of the economy. The Trailblazer process needs to be employer driven but must include all stakeholders in the development process.

AELP CEO Stewart Segal said:

“It is good news that the government has heard the voice of employers through this consultation. We have been saying for some time that employers want to have the purchasing power in the programme and in fact they already do have that power.

“Most of the employers our members work with do not want to take on the administration and management of the government contributions and they will want to continue to work with the providers of their choice. AELP has put forward a number of recommendations that would reinforce the concept of employer choice and this will encourage even more employers to get involved in Apprenticeships. We are already working with BIS, EFA and SFA to develop a model that will encourage more employers to become engaged and this has to mean a collaborative approach to standards development and simplification of the current funding model.”

AELP are working with sector partners such as AoC, 157 Group and Holex to ensure providers are involved in the Trailblazer process and this statement should reinforce the need to ensure that any changes enhance and not undermine the very successful Apprenticeship programme.

It will be important to learn lessons from the current Trailblazers to ensure that the overall programme is coherent and that changes are given time to bed in. Importantly the Skills Minister has confirmed that he ‘will not introduce bureaucracy that will make it more difficult for employers to offer apprenticeships.’

It is also important to note that ‘some respondents to the consultation raised concerns about the inclusion of compulsory cash co-investment in the funding model.’ Even the Minister and the Secretary of State have expressed concerns about this concept and AELP believes that this would indeed be a barrier to entry for many employers. AELP does believe in the concept of a greater focus on employer contributions but this has to be both cash and in kind contributions.

AELP has always said that it shares the government’s ambition to ‘making England’s apprenticeship programme the best in the world. The focus of our reforms is to make apprenticeships more rigorous and responsive to employers’. AELP’s recommendations set out the way to deliver these ambitions and they reflect the close working relationships between providers and employers.




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