Shift from frameworks to standards poses 'major risks' to apprenticeship reforms

18th July 2017 at 18:56
Lower-than-expected numbers of learners and slow progression from frameworks to standards have been identified as major risks

Urgent action is needed to address several issues with the government’s ongoing reform of apprenticeships, a new document has revealed.

According to the Department for Education's (DfE) Government Major Projects Portfolio, published today, the apprenticeship programme has experienced a "slower than budgeted move from frameworks to more expensive standards and lower than anticipated number of learners from those assumed in the spending review model".

It has therefore been given a delivery confidence assessment of "amber/red" by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), which means its successful completion is in doubt "with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas".

The status – which is the second lowest grade possible – means that urgent action is needed to make sure the issues are addressed, including the development of an action plan. A review of the programme will then take place within a minumum of three months.

Delivery confidence assessments examine the overall risk of a particular project using a five-point, traffic light scale, going from green to red. A red status is the highest indicator of risk. 

The full definition for the"amber/red" assessment is that "successful delivery of the project is in doubt, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas. Urgent action is needed to ensure these are addressed, and whether resolution is feasible".

Both the apprenticeship reform programme and the government's plan to entitle 30 hours of free childcare to parents of three- and four-year-olds have been given an assessment of amber/red.

Last month, research by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) revealed that just 17 per cent of employers anticipated an increase in the total number of apprenticeship starts up to October, while half planned to reduce their overall number. 

The DfE has been contacted for comment.

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