‘The inflexible funding system is discouraging training providers’
Mark Dawe, CEO of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, says:
The main reason why traineeship starts have fallen this year is the government’s inflexible funding system, which discourages providers from taking risks in investing in the additional capacity needed to offer young people more opportunities on the programme.
This is happening because many employers are raising the bar for entry onto their apprenticeship programmes, so young people with fewer GCSEs need traineeships before they can move onto an apprenticeship.
Providers will invest more if the Education and Skills Funding Agency introduces a monthly funding system that responds to learner demand and encourages programme growth.
A further obstacle to growth is that the current ESFA quality measurement regime is not fit for purpose. AELP supports the official outcome measures being a job, an apprenticeship or further learning, but these are only recorded as a success if the learner achieves one of them during the programme, rather than at the end of it.
It’s been a bugbear that AELP has had to challenge for years with government-funded skills programmes, but there is still a reluctance in some quarters of Whitehall to fully back a programme unless there is qualification attainment attached to it.
Traineeships are no different in this regard and while providers, for example, make excellent progress with many learners on English and maths, a traineeship programme often lasting less than six months can’t be expected to rectify what 11 years of statutory schooling has failed to provide. Policymakers should not be obsessed about qualifications, primarily to stop young people from becoming NEET [not in employment, education or training]. The issue threatens to undermine the whole purpose of traineeships.