Training firms hit ny pound;25m shortfall

A shortfall in funding has prompted training providers to cut back on apprenticeships.

The Association of Learning Providers has been told by members they want to avoid a similar situatation to last year when the shortfall was Pounds 25million.

More young people than expected completed their apprenticeships last year and the money ran out before they finished their courses.

Graham Hoyle, chief executive of the ALP, said: "Many young people who wanted apprenticeships will be disappointed - what's going to happen to them?"

The demand for apprenticeships is high.

At the Kent training firm JTL , which provides apprentices with training in building services such as electrical installation and plumbing, there are 10,000 applicants for 3,000 places.

David Hird, the company's chief executive, said it was trying to encourage more employers to offer apprenticeships, but the demand from teenagers may not reflect the reality in industry.

"There has been a lot of media hype about the skills shortage in building services and the salary levels they can get. But reality has not been able to match expectations."

He also said it could prove to be a better use of public funds if training companies were more selective and concentrated on ensuring apprentices stayed the course.

The funding shortfall is the subject of a dispute between the ALP and the Learning and Skills Council, as training providers argue that they should be paid in full for all apprentices.

A meeting between the two was held last Friday as part of an attempt to prevent threatened legal action by training firms against the funding body.

Stephen Gardner, director of work-based learning at the LSC, said it would respond to the ALP's claim as soon as possible. But he said: "We are still of the same view about the contract."

The LSC has argued that its contracts with learning providers were capped at a maximum value.

When this was exceeded by training companies, the LSC offered to fund half the cost of the extra apprentices.

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