Independent providers deliver three in four apprenticeships

Despite government calls for colleges to increase their market share, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers finds little progress

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Three-quarters of apprenticeships started in 2015-16 were delivered by independent training providers, according to the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP).

A Freedom of Information request has revealed 75 per cent of the 509,000 apprenticeship starts were delivered by independent providers in partnership with employers, either under a direct contract with the Education and Skills Funding Agency or under a subcontract with a further education college or other provider. 

The AELP said this meant the position remained “virtually unchanged” from last year, with 15 of every 20 apprenticeships delivered by independent providers, four by colleges, and one by other types of provider. The association added that this was despite ministers wanting to see the college share of the market increase substantially.

No surprise

AELP chief executive Mark Dawe said it was no surprise that the 75 per cent independent training provider share of the apprenticeship market was unchanged. “Strong employer engagement of levy and non-levy payers, allied with good quality provision and a flexible response to the customer’s needs, are the key to success," he added.

“AELP supports the employer-driven principles behind the government’s apprenticeship reforms. With the information available including Ofsted judgements, employers are perfectly capable of choosing a training provider, college or another type of provider that will be responsive to their needs. Let them get on with it. AELP has excellent college members who are comfortable with this and they don’t need the government to try and fix the market for them.”

Association of Colleges (AOC) chief executive David Hughes told Tes there were a lot of discussions to be had around apprenticeships, “including access, inclusions, getting the high level skills and meeting the skills gap". "The last thing I want to spend time debating is market share,” he added.

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