The Association of Employment and Learning Providers has called on the government to take action over apprenticeships.
According to AELP, the government has to make sure that all non-levy apprenticeship contracts are honoured, whatever level of performance. There also should be allowances made for extended breaks in learning and flexibility around the 20 per cent off-the-job training requirement.
AELP calls for the framework changes and the funding bands consultation to be suspended for six months and extra adult education funding to be provided to develop online programmes for employees at home.
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In his weekly newsletter, chief executive Mark Dawe writes: “Everything else is irrelevant if the whole sector has gone bust in the next few months. I will attempt to set out what we have asked for in terms of flexibilities and what we are pushing for in terms of funding. While we may not have written a public letter, we are in constant contact with the Department [for Education], agencies and, where appropriate, the Treasury."
Apprenticeships: AELP's coronavirus response demands in full
- Non-levy contracts should be honoured whatever the level of performance.
- All other funding contracts including ESF (including agreed sub-contracts if college funding is guaranteed) should be honoured whatever the level of performance.
- When it comes to levy starts, the Department for Education should look at the average drawdown for the past three months and guarantee that as a minimum funding level per month.
- Devolved adult education budget: all combined authorities should adopt the same approach and honour contracts no matter what.
Delivery rules and regulations
- The new flexibility in terms of a break in learning should be increased from four weeks and must be a general rule, not something that is applied for. If the crisis is predicted to be three months long, then breaks in learning and delays in learning up to this period of time should be allowed for all the eventualities above – with the appropriate sign-off from the employer and the provider. However, while this helps data and success, we know that it still leaves a hole in funding which is why we have asked for profile funding as described above.
- An acceptance that the period of training is likely to be extended due to delays in on-the-job, off-the-job or both. The DfE must consider the financial consequences of these delays.
- Flexibility between on- and off-the-job is required during this period if a provider can demonstrate appropriate development of knowledge, skills and behaviour through the delivery put in place in whatever form.
- Confirmation must be given that the gateway exercise can be done remotely and doesn’t need to be done face-to-face.
- There is a deadline to complete the old functional skills assessment: this deadline needs to be moved.
Assessment rules and regulations
- Some assessments are required to be face-to-face in the standard but if they could be delivered remotely, there should be a rule change for the period of the crisis (at least) to allow remote where possible.
- The requirement to complete assessments in a certain order must be relaxed.
- Some assessments require a manager to be present: this needs to be dropped to allow assessments to be done at home or while a learner is in isolation.
- There will still be issues about independent invigilation of functional skills assessments and EPA multiple-choice assessments. Employers' staff should be allowed to invigilate these with appropriate rules and controls in place. Staff used to do this must be people who have not been involved in the training of the apprentice.
- There are fixed assessment windows post-gateway, often three months. These rules need to be relaxed to allow a longer period to deliver all assessments.
- Currently observations are required face-to-face and via an independent assessor. This assessment either needs to be dropped during the period and the remote professional discussion is extended to cover what would have been assessed through observation or the observation is allowed to be undertaken by the employer making a record of assessment and moderated remotely or reviewed through the professional discussion.
- Suspend funding bands consultation for six months: it is flawed, and we can’t put the work into it with members that we were planning.
- Stop the ESFA audit.
- Suspend framework change for six months.
- With AEB and traineeship funding, remove the restrictions on whether funding is spent in period 1 to 8 or 9 to 12.
- Increase flexibility of funding and rules for those apprentices made redundant.
- Completing them and running traineeships without employer placements are near-impossible now.
- Extend the non-levy contracts for another six months.
- For those that have used up AEB, provide extra funding for online programmes for employees at home.
- Remove the 5 per cent employer contribution for non-levy employers.