Apprenticeship providers on borrowed time, warns AELP

Just two training providers have managed to secure loans under the Treasury’s business support package, survey suggests

Kate Parker

Coronavirus: Apprenticeship providers are on borrowed time, warns the Association of Employment and Learning Providers

A quarter of independent training providers believe their chances of survival are at less than 50 per cent, a survey from the Association of Employment and Learning Providers suggests. 

Just two out of more than 70 training providers surveyed said they had successfully obtained a loan under the Treasury’s business support package. Five had their applications rejected, 25 found they were not eligible and 39 were still waiting to hear back from their bank. 

Coronavirus: 'Without support, training providers won't survive'

More: The reputation of apprenticeships is at stake...

Q&A: Minister Gillian Keegan on coronavirus response

AELP has issued stern warnings about the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on training providers, with chief executive Mark Dawe saying that they were living on borrowed time.

Coronavirus: Independent training providers at risk

He said: “The longer the Department for Education mysteriously fails to explain why it is refusing to comply with the Cabinet Office Covid guidelines and to change its position on funding accordingly, the greater the damage will be when the country needs to be maximising skills training capacity for picking up the economy when the pandemic is over. 

“This is an example of where the ‘levelling up’ mantra is fast becoming a very discredited piece of rhetoric because this is not about whether a group of independent training providers survive or not, but whether thousands of young people and unemployed adults, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, are going to have access to high-quality apprenticeship and other training opportunities when they really need them.

“No bailout money is needed – the apprenticeship budget for 2020-21 is already sitting in the DfE’s coffers, so why aren’t ministers using it to produce the skills the country so desperately needs?”  

The survey shows that one in five apprentices were on a break in learning, had been made redundant or had left their programme. The sectors most adversely affected were health and care, early years educators, hospitality and catering, and the motor trades. 

More than 40 per cent of providers said they were managing to train apprentices and other learners at between 80 and 100 per cent of their normal capacity – but 57 per cent were training at less than 80 per cent of capacity.

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateeParker

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