Last week's apprenticeship starts figures from the Department for Education were, again, disappointing. The only good news that you can take from these is that the rate of decline in starts is slowing. We have yet to see an increase in apprenticeships starts since the introduction of the levy, with all the worrying implications for social mobility that come with that.
The government is always on a bit of a hiding to nothing when it issues data like this, as the media and people like me pick the numbers apart. In stark terms, we are falling well short of the government’s target to achieve 3 million apprenticeship starts by 2020. It would be easy to blame the government and the levy, but given that it’s businesses and education providers like Capital City College Training (CCCT) that will do the hard work of finding, vetting, recruiting, training and supporting apprentices, we – education providers and businesses – all need to do all we can to step up to the plate to enable more people to get an apprenticeship role and get on that "ladder of opportunity", as former apprenticeships and skills minister Rob Halfon might say.
Using the apprenticeship levy 'pot'
CCCT is one of London’s largest providers of apprenticeships, with the widest range of apprenticeships available. We have trained over 2,000 apprentices on behalf of 1,000 employers in both public and private sectors, and we support businesses large and small through the entire process of creating apprenticeship roles and filling them. By working in partnership with our founding colleges, Westminster Kingsway College, City and Islington College and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, we design and deliver a suite of training for apprentices that is flexible and focused and helps them get on with their core business. We also arrange assessment through a combination of workplace observation, work portfolios, mentor statements, evidence and exams.
Perhaps of more concern to many apprenticeship levy-paying employers, especially in London where we operate, is that by not using their levy "pot", they face losing all the money they have paid into it. Our consultancy service helps employers to plan for the levy, navigate the funding arrangements, set up their digital levy account and put in place a training programme that maximises their levy funds. Although employers have two years before they could lose their unused levy money, I’d urge them to talk to providers and make plans now to ensure that it doesn’t happen to them.
Paul Fegan is managing director of Capital City College Training