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Apprenticeships: funding concerns remain despite government statement

A government statement answering questions on apprenticeship funding reform has failed to put to rest concerns from the FE sector.

Ministers want to put apprenticeship funding in the hands of employers and have consulted on two ways of doing it;  either through the pay-as-you-earn system or through a new system of credits.

A two-page Q&A document was published this week aimed at addressing some of the issues raised in the recent consultation.

It confirms that the payment system will work for small businesses and will be fully tested before launch. Employers will not have to meet the full cost of training up front but can “draw down” government funding.

However, Stewart Segal, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) said concerns still remain.

“It does not yet address the main issue of moving to a funding system that will really engage employers by allowing them the choice of direct funding as an employer/provider or working with a provider of their choice who would draw down the funding,” he said.

“It also does not address the concerns expressed by many employers and employer representative groups who do not support mandatory cash contributions.”

The consultation closed in May and received more than 1,400 responses.

The government said it is carrying out a thorough analysis of the feedback and intends to respond in the autumn.

But Mr Segal said: “With such an important issue creating real uncertainty in the sector, we had hoped that the results of the consultation would have been issued at an early stage. 

“We are also aware that many responses expressed views about the wider reforms and not just about which of the two funding systems they would prefer.  We hope these findings will be published as part of the consultation. 

“Employers are not just worried about cashflow and bureaucracy but the contractual commitment that they will have to make if they are required to make cash contributions and draw the funding down directly.”


Related stories:

Apprenticeship reforms will change 'culture of the whole country', says minister - June 2014

Apprenticeship funding reforms 'could cost places', employers warn - May 2014

Apprenticeships: funding reforms risk 'corruption' and 'fraud' warns training provider - February 2014


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