Call me for cash, says LSC chief

24th October 2003 at 01:00
A top LSC director pledged this week personally to ensure funding got to work-based learners aged 19-21.

Peter Bramall, Learning and Skills Council planning and budgeting director, told the largest ever gathering of work-based providers to contact him if they had problems receiving cash.

Speaking on Monday at the autumn conference of the fledgling Association of Learning Providers, he said he was concerned some parts of the country were still unclear about what funding was available.

He faced calls to bring funding for 19 to 21-year-olds into line with levels for 16 to 18-year-olds. Currently the younger group gets up to 30 per cent more per learner despite 19 to 21-year-olds costing more to employ.

Mr Bramall said: "For 19 to 21-year-olds there is a guarantee of funding.

Up to age 24 we will do our best to put it in place.

"We still hear the message gets watered down and people are potentially turning learners away for funding reasons. If there is one thing I want you to leave here with, it is that that is not the case. If you have a watering down in your part of the world, I invite you to contact me personally and I will make sure you have the money."

But in an automotive sector seminar after Mr Bramall's speech there were calls for more funding for the 19 to 21 age-group. Delegate Edward Clark said: "Guaranteed funding for 19 to 21-year-olds is one thing but in my experience the level of money available is greatly reduced from 16 to 18-year-olds. The supposition is that they are more mature and they have learnt more and they bring more. My experience is that that is not the case and they cost just as much as the younger ones. You have to pay them more.

"We are not going to get more employers involved unless the LSC will raise the funding levels for this group."

Another delegate Mike Henderson, director of Kent-based IPS International, had concerns about modern apprenticeship targets. He said: "The Government wants 50 per cent to go to university and then the next 28 per cent to go on modern apprenticeships when we all know some of those being pushed into higher education would do better on the more practical apprenticeship schemes.

"Part of the problem is we cannot get... (into) schools to tell kids all the options... They want to hang on to the kids because more bums on seats at sixth form means more money for them."

Graham Hoyle, ALP chief executive, backed the automotive sector call for funding parity and said it had been a very successful conference for an organisation only formally founded last year. Future plans include a regional reorganisation in line with regionalisation of the LSC and initiatives for smaller learning providers.

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