Over a quarter of organisations included on the register of apprenticeship training providers (RoATP) have no previous experience of delivering apprenticeships, a minister has admitted.
Ahead of the introduction of the apprenticeship levy tomorrow, schools minister Lord Nash revealed, in response to a parliamentary question, that 451 – or 26 per cent – of organisations on the RoATP have no experience of delivering apprenticeships.
However, 17 colleges rated "good" by Ofsted failed to be approved "on the basis that they failed to meet the broader set of criteria", Lord Nash added, stressing that no colleges rated "outstanding" had been omitted.
"The new register opens up the current apprenticeship market to wider competition," Lord Nash said. "We have sought to encourage new providers to come forward who do not have a tradition of delivering apprenticeships. There are 451 organisations that we consider to have no previous history of delivering apprenticeships. These include universities, charities, public sector bodies, employers and other private/commercial providers. This will give employers a wider choice of providers and create a broader range of training for individual apprentices to benefit from."
More than 1,700 providers – 1,303 main providers, 235 supporting providers and 170 employer providers – were named on the RoATP last month. A quarter of those which applied (619 providers) were not successful and are able to reapply for the chance to deliver apprenticeship training. Meanwhile, providers hoping to deliver apprenticeship training to non-levy paying employers are still waiting for the publication of the RoATP for small- and medium-sized enterprises. A spokesperson from the Department for Education told Tes that the register would be published soon.
'There must be no softer regime'
A spokesperson for the Association of Employment and Learning Providers said: “We don’t have an issue with the government opening up the apprenticeship market to new providers, especially when they include highly reputable organisations such as NHS trusts, leading universities and big employers. What is crucial, however, is that the interests of their apprentices are safeguarded with the same quality and financial assurance arrangements, including inspection, that protect apprentices under the current system.
“There must be no secondary or softer regime for them and the Skills Funding Agency must step in quickly if it becomes clear that any new provider is unable to deliver on its levy-paying or non-levy-paying commitments.”