GMLPF launches live webinars explaining apprenticeship reforms

GMLPF launch new series of live webinars explaining apprenticeship reforms

Merseyside employers are being invited to sign up for a series of free webinars which will highlight the significant changes to the funding of apprenticeships.

Organised by the Greater Merseyside Learning Providers’ Federation (GMLPF), the online webinars will provide employers with the latest information on the proposed apprenticeship reforms and discuss how it will impact future apprenticeship recruitment.

As part of the government’s pledge to support three million apprenticeships by 2020, it has outlined radical changes to boost apprenticeships numbers and drive up quality in courses.

As part of this reform process, the government is changing the way apprenticeships are funded. Large employers with payrolls over £3 million will have to pay for apprenticeship training through a new ‘apprenticeship levy’ that they will have to contribute to.

Employers with payrolls of less than £3m will have to pay a cash contribution towards the cost of recruiting apprentices, regardless of the age of the apprentice.

The first webinar, Apprenticeships Reforms: The Basics, took place on Tuesday 4 October and was very well attended by both GMLPF members and employers. This was the first in a new series of monthly talks which will cover all aspects of the further education, skills and apprenticeship sectors. The webinars are free to join and are open to GMLPF members and non-members.

Gareth Jones, GMLPF’s apprenticeships strategy manager is leading the webinars which will provide employers and members with regular updates on the latest apprenticeship reform information released by Government.

With a career spanning more than 15 years in the skills sector, Gareth has a wealth of apprenticeship expertise which he will use to inform employers about the changing landscape of apprenticeship training and recruitment.

The webinars will include question and answer sesions, giving businesses the opportunity to voice any queries or concerns.

Gareth Jones, apprenticeships strategy manager at GMLPF, says: “With new challenges and changes to the further education sector and apprenticeships, our main focus is on supporting our members and other local businesses through these reforms and giving them as much information and resources as possible.

“The new webinar series will outline some of the crucial changes to post-16 education and training and highlight the reforms which are likely to affect the employment of apprentices across the region. We believe collaboration and guidance is essential to ensure the longevity and quality of apprenticeships is maintained.”

The next webinar focusses on the new Register of Apprenticeship Providers and takes place on Wednesday 2nd November at 10.30am. To register click on the link below. Places limited.


Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers: Who will be delivering Apprenticeships from May 2017?

A new register, Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) is to be introduced and current providers are being invited to submit their views via an online survey. The consultation is open until the 5th September and GMLPF will be collating a response on behalf of its members.

Government plans propose that all organisations wanting to deliver Apprenticeship training must apply and be approved on RoATP. This is a significant change as currently, those subcontracting providers delivering less than £100,000 do not need to apply to the SFA’s present register. This will not be the case with the new system and all providers regardless of prime/subcontract status need to apply.

NB There is no automatic transfer from the SFA’s current ROTO to the new RoATP.

As part of the application process, the SFA will run a procurement for delivery of Apprenticeship training to non-levied employers and award contracts to successful employers. This is highly unlikely to be an allocation as providers have been previously used to, instead it is more likely to be a facility to allow payment of Government contributions to employers and to allow providers the ability to market their provision to employers at a scale that fits with the application process.

Under the current system (ROTO) there are a number of organisations registered that do not deliver any Apprenticeship training themselves and instead act as managing agents, intermediary bodies, brokerage organisations, etc. These organisations will not be eligible to apply for RoATP as the Government wants all employers to have direct relationships with training providers.

The proposal is to ensure that any future subcontracting arrangements meet the needs of employers and therefore it will be limited to a provider bringing in expertise to support the delivery of an Apprenticeship for an employer. It is proposed that expectation is that the main provider should deliver significantly more than half of each apprentices training. Therefore fully subcontracted delivery models will be redundant.

There are 3 application categories:

  1. Main route
  2. Supporting Route
  3. Employer Provider Route
Main Route

It is expected the vast majority of applicants will come through this route and they will do so if they:

  • Wish to be eligible for selection by levied employers to deliver apprenticeship training
  • Want to participate in SFA procurement for delivery
  • Have capacity to deliver the majority of each framework they offer
  • Want to deliver parts of Apprenticeships under a subcontractor on the main RoATP register.
Supporting Route

The Government is seeking views as to whether to create an application route for those providers who want to support a main provider’s delivery to employers. Potentially this could be an entry route into Apprenticeship delivery at a later date.

Those applying and successful via this route would not have any direct relationship with employers and so would appear on DAS as a potential provider an employer could select.

Employer Provider Route

This route is for those employers who solely want to deliver training to their own staff.

All three proposed routes would be subject to the same applicant tests and all three must be passed to appear on the register. The tests are:

  • Due diligence
  • Financial health test
  • Quality, capacity and capability
Timeline for applications

RoATP should open for applications in October 2016. Once in a steady state, the proposal is that the register will reopen every three months. Every provider must reapply every 12 months should they stay on the register.

What does it mean for providers?

All providers regardless of the provision they deliver at the moment, their contract status with the SFA needs to look at the new information released on Friday.

Providers should look at the key documents within the framework and start looking at the new funding rates for the Apprenticeship frameworks/standards that they currently deliver. In most cases the funding for the newer standards is significantly higher than corresponding older frameworks. Cost of delivery may be higher reflecting the additional funding but it is important that moving to standard delivery is a high priority for all providers.

We will support providers throughout the process and will update as and when we know more or obtain more clarification

Apprenticeships Reforms: the long awaited update

Many weeks have passed since the referendum. It’s fair to assume that the resulting change of prime minister is what delayed the publication of the long awaited Apprenticeship Reforms update. It was finally released by DfE/SFA last Friday, full of information, despite leaving some questions unanswered!

Key points from the newly released information:

Apprenticeship Levy
  • The Levy will be paid by any employer with a paybill over £3m. A £15,000 allowance for all companies means effectively it is only those over £3m that will pay.
  • Levy payments will be collected monthly alongside PAYE payments and will be based on ‘live’ HMRC Payroll data that employers have already submitted to HMRC.
  • Levy funds will expire 18 months after they are first deposited into their Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) account.
  • Levy funds can only be used to pay for Apprenticeship training, not wages, management costs etc.
  • Every Levy payer will have a 10% top-up automatically applied to their accounts to ensure that they have the opportunity to get more out than they put in
Apprenticeship Funding Reform

Every existing Apprenticeship framework and standard has been allocated into one of 15 new funding bands that equate to the maximum amount of Levy funding that can be drawn down for it. The bands range from £1500 to £27,000.

Existing frameworks have been allocated into the band that is closest to their rate of funding under the existing Apprenticeship funding model.

For all frameworks in the STEM sectors, the Government is proposing to uplift the current adult rate by 40% for level 2 and 80% for level 3 frameworks to take into account that the fact that in these employers are currently disproportionately likely to pay extra to providers on top of the government funding for Apprenticeships.

These uplifts will affect frameworks in the following sectors:

  • Engineering & manufacturing technologies
  • Information and communication technology
  • Science and mathematics
  • Construction, planning and the built environment

A spreadsheet with all the funding rates can be found here: Apprenticeship Funding Bands Tool

Funding for English and Maths qualifications, if required by the apprentice, will continue to be paid directly by the Skills Funding Agency to the provider at a rate of £471 and will not come out of the employers Levy pot.

Payments by Levy payers will be made to providers on a monthly basis. 80% of the payment will be paid as long as the apprentice is in learning. The remaining 20% is held back as a completion payment.

Non-Levy Paying Employers

For those employers who do not make any Levy contributions they will be required to make a 10% contribution towards the cost of training. The Government will pay the remaining 90%, up to the maximum of the funding band that the framework/standard has been allocated. These payments can be spread over the length of the framework, meaning in some cases the cost to an employer could be as little as around £10 per month

Maths and English will be paid direct to the providers at the same rate as Levy payers – £471

The provider will have to evidence payment has been received from the employer before the government funding.

Levy payers who have used all their Levy funds up, will adopt the same methodology of contributions for any additional apprenticeship training they wish to purchase.

Incentives for recruiting those aged 16-18

Any employer with less than 50 staff will not be required to make any contribution towards the cost of the training if they recruit a 16-18 year old.

In addition, a 16-18 year old apprentice will attract an additional £1000 payment for both the employer and the provider. These amounts will be paid across two instalments at 3 and 12 months of the apprentice’s programme.

Support for disadvantaged learners

Any learner aged 19-24 who have previously been in care or have a Local Authority Education and Health Plan (i.e. broadly those with learning and physical difficulties, will attract additional payments of £1000 for both the provider and the employer. These again will be paid in two instalments at 3 and 12 months.

If the learner works for a company with less than 50 employers, it is again fully funded by the Government as with 16-18 year olds.

However, there is no additional support for similarly disadvantaged learners aged 16-18 other than the standard £1000 offered for all 16-18 year old apprentices.

Existing learner support payments to providers will remain at a rate of £150 per month.

Gareth Jones

FE Week – Festival of Skills Apprenticeship Summit

Last Friday I attended the first FE Week Festival of Skills which was held at Capel Manor College just outside of London.

Pre-referendum, it was expected that by the time this event took place, further funding reform information would be available for discussion. Brexit delayed this but nevertheless, it was an excellent event. Keith Smith, Director of Apprenticeship Levy Implementation at BIS, spoke at several sessions.

Smith confirmed further reform information would be released in the “next few days”. So we should expect to receive this before parliament recess on 21st July.

Key summaries from event:

1. Apprenticeship Funding Reforms – levy paying employers

– New simpler funding model
– Model based on financial year for all employers
– New register of training providers
– New contracting model for providers covering levy and non-levy employers

The contract for services for Apprenticeships training will be agreed between employer and provider – a commercial arrangement in other words. SFA will not have any input or jurisdiction over contractual issues between employer and provider.

Every provider who is on the new Register of Training Providers will have an Auxiliary Agreement, allowing funding to flow between SFA and the provider.

The Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) will be the key marketing tool for providers. Providers must start thinking about what information they will provide for DAS as this will be their first link with many employers.

Payments still linked to ILR submission by providers

2. Apprenticeship Funding Reforms – non levy employers

– Smith suggests there won’t be much difference from the current system for next year or two until all employers start to use DAS.

– To note: ALL providers to compete for money through a procurement exercise this year. If successful they will get an allocation for Apprenticeship training to market to employers. The procurement process will start when the register of training providers opens later this year.

– As with Levy paying employers, the ILR is still the key to ensure payments are made between employer/provider/government. Monthly data returns and payments will continue to be made to providers

3. Transition to the new system

– All funding agreements will be replaced by April 2017 by SFA

– Interested organisations must make a new application to the Register of Training Providers, there will be no automatic transfer from ROTO

4. Register of Training Providers

A Register of Training Providers consultation is to be launched shortly. This includes consideration of the criteria for joining the register. There will be a strong focus on capacity to deliver high quality Apprenticeships and suitability for receiving public funds

3 application routes under considered:
Main: for those wishing to procure funding to deliver apprenticeships direct to employers
Specialist: for those who don’t wish to procure funding ie those wishing to subcontract provision from a prime
Employer-provider: for employers wishing to deliver their own training

There will be four areas tested by the new register: Financial Health, Due Diligence, Quality and Readiness to Deliver

1. Financial Health
– Proposing differential financial health assessment from ROTO based on risk
– Looking at guarantees rule eg ROTO currently permits the use of supporting information like directors’ guarantee, forecasts, provider turnover thresholds. This may stop.
– Colleges with Financial Notices of Concerns issued by the SFA might not make it onto the register

2. Due Diligence: will continue to follow the Crown Commercial Service

3. Quality: to include delivery model; internal management arrangements; knowledge and experience of staff; prior experience

Colleges with Grade 4 provision might not make it onto the register

4. Readiness to Deliver
– MI and data management arrangements including data security
– Arrangements for safeguarding, etc

Register of Training Providers timeline

July: publish consultation (will close before end of August)
Sept: register opens – launch procurement
Oct: register closes
Oct-Dec: evaluation
Jan: publish v1
Jan: re-open
April: publish v2
April: contracting starts, levy collection starts

As more information emerges in the coming two weeks, GMLPF will provide members with updates.

It’s important that prime and sub-contracting providers consider their likely position in terms of the Register of Training Providers if they wish to deliver Apprenticeship provision post-April 2017.

Gareth Jones
Apprenticeships Strategy Manager

Devolved LCR Apprenticeship Grant for Employers

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has been given devolved funding from the national Apprenticeships Grant for Employers (AGE) scheme to provide grants from the 1st August to the 31st December 2016 to employers who recruit apprentices.

On 5th July GMLPF partnered with the Combined Authority to announce the LCR Apprenticeship Grant for Employers.

Because the scheme has been devolved, it allows the City Region to set its own level of grant funding along with its own eligibility criteria.

This scheme will be introduced from the 1st August 2016, and effectively replaces the national scheme as the only grant available to LCR based employers from this time. Any employer after this time put forward for the £1500 national grant will automatically rejected.

Key points to note:
  • LCR grants have been enhanced from £1500 available nationally to a minimum of £2500 and a maximum of £4000 depending on the age of the apprentice and the level of the apprenticeship being undertaken
  • LCR Grants are available to employers who employ up to 249 employees (national scheme = 50 employees)
  • LCR grants available to employers who have not recruited an apprentice for the past 6 months (national scheme = 12 months)
  • LCR Combined Authority are asking Apprenticeship providers to complete a Provider Expectiona proforma indicating how many grant payments they are likely to claim between August and December 2016
  • Powerpoint presentation from launch event 5/7/16: details of grant including revised and enhanced eligibility requirements
  • Employer information flyer: for promoting grant to employer
  • LCR Combined Authority websitelink to updated information on grant and access to provider guidance pack
  • LCR AGE Provider Guidance
  • LCR AGE Employer and Provider claim pack
  • LCR AGE Provider Expectation proforma

Any questions of queries relating to the grant should be directed to

I will of course be more than happy to field any questions from GMLPF members

Referendum shock leads to delay in reforms announcement

This week we were due to see the publication of the next release of information related to the Apprenticeship Reforms being introduced from April 2017.

Apprenticeship Levy

However Skills Minister Nick boles at the AELP conference this week confirmed that there would be a “little delay” to the announcement due to the result of the referendum and the public’s decision to leave the European Union. He did though confirm that we can expect the information before the summer recess of Parliament which is on the 21st July. He added that “we should all continue to assume and work on the assumption that the Apprenticeship Levy is coming in, as planned”

The information that was due to be announced included information on co-investment rates that would apply to non-levy paying employers. Previously there had been an assumption that for every £1 an employer makes, the Government would contribute £2. However, in the week leading up to the AELP conference, FE Week published a story that the Government was considering a much larger contribution of £1 to £9 employer to Government contribution. We will have to wait to see if this is true but if that is the case, 90% Government funding of Apprenticeships would be welcomed by all providers as this would be a much more attractive proposition to employers.

Register of Apprenticeship training providers

Later in the conference, Keith Smith, who is responsible for implementation of the Apprenticeship Levy and funding reforms at BIS, commented that funding reforms were going ahead and that Levy would be the only pot of funding for Apprenticeships, meaning that unused Levy contributions will be used to co-invest into non-levy paying employers. He also confirmed that an overdue consultation on the new register for Apprenticesip training providers would be released shortly. He confirmed that those providers who are currently  subcontracting will be able to join the register and potentially deliver Apprenticeship training direct to employers without the need for a subcontract agreement with a lead provider.

We will just have to wait and see what the detail behind the reforms say, potentially we may be looking at significant Government funding for non-levy players, a welcome development. We also need to see and be part of the consultation process on the new register.

GMLPF employer event postponed

As a result of this slight delay in publishing new information we have decided to postpone our planned event for employers next week and have rescheduled it for the 29th July. Please re-book your place



GMLPF Event: How will Apprenticeship funding changes affect employers?

Greater Merseyside Learning Providers’ Federation (GMLPF) is holding a free event for employers, in anticipation of the significant Apprenticeship funding changes coming into effect from April 2017.

The Government has unveiled a series of reforms to Apprenticeships as well as setting a target of 3 million Apprenticeships over the life of this parliament.

As part of this reform process, the Government are changing the way Apprenticeships are funded. Large employers with payrolls over £3m will have to pay for Apprenticeship training through a new Apprenticeship Levy that they will have to contribute to. Meanwhile, employers with payroll of less than £3m will have to pay a cash contribution towards the cost of recruiting apprentices regardless of the age of the apprentice.

The Government has already published information that outlines these changes, more detail is due to be published in June 2016 which GMLPF at the event.

This breakfast briefing will feature speakers from the Skills Funding Agency, BAE Systems, the Greater Merseyside Learning Providers Federation and the Liverpool City Region Employment & Skills Team.

Come and find out more about the changes and how it will impact your organisation and plans for Apprenticeship recruitment

Timings 8am for 8.30am start. Close 10.30am


8.00 –  8.30 Registration

8.30 – 8.35 – Welcome – Gareth Jones, Apprenticeship Strategy Manager, GMLPF

8.35 – 9.00 – Overview of Apprenticeship Funding reforms – John Myers – Head of Account Management,  Skills Funding Agency

 9.00 – 9.15 – Apprenticeship Reforms from a large company perspective Mark Donnelly – Head of      Apprenticeships, BAE Systems

9.15 – 9.30 – Apprenticeship Reforms and impact on Liverpool City Region – TBC – Liverpool City Region team

 9.30 – 9.45 – Q&A session

 9.45 – 10.15 – Table Discussions – Impact on the Levy

10.30 – Event Close and Closing remarks from GMLPF CEO, James Glendenning

Book Now

Apprenticeship Levy: taking stock

No-one can fail to notice that Apprenticeship Levy updates are coming through thick and fast now. Whilst it is good to finally start getting information through, we are still missing the critical detail behind the proposals published by BIS on its website on the 21st April.

Having attended an FE Week event hosted by Gordon Marsden MP, Shadow Skills Minister earlier in the week, it’s clear that he is none the wiser either!

In the opening speech at the event, Marsden made it clear that the Labour party is very much in favour of the Levy. It’s seen as a way of providing funding for Apprenticeships and an opportunity to address quality under the steer of employers who will be more involved than ever before.

The main thrust of Marsden’s speech echoes was what we’ve all been saying: that we need to know the devil behind the detail. Other speakers at the event included Martin Doel (AoC), Gemma Gathercole (Head of Policy – OCR), Mike Cox (AELP) and chair for the afternoon Nick Linford (FE Week).

Mr Marsden went on to express his concerns that that it’s not clear where the figure of 3m Apprenticeship starts has come from or even the £3bn that the Levy is claimed to raise. He also confirmed that no agreement has been reached with devolved governments about what their share of the total £3bn pot will be.

What is crystal clear is that skills providers are going to have to be prepared to react quicker than ever before with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy.

One view aired at the event was that Apprenticeship Levy is clouding Apprenticeship policy. All conversations with employers, providers and colleges around Apprenticeships are purely focusing on the Levy and primarily what we don’t yet know! Because so much is still unknown, there is an awful lot of speculation, second guessing, and dare I say it, catastrophising.

The biggest issue in my opinion at the moment is the impact on small and medium sized enterprises, who will for the first time have to contribute cash towards the cost of Apprenticeship training. This may be reclaimed in the form of an incentive, and as with some of the Trailblazer Standard funding bands, employers may be able to get back more out of the system than they put in.

As a sector what we cannot afford to do is shy away from this challenge. We are, after all, just 11 months away from the proposed introduction of these changes.

We now need to start having conversations with employers of all shapes and sizes and put plans in place ahead of introduction of the new funding models from 6th April 2017. These conversations may well be challenging and keeping an open mind, and listening to employers’ concerns is crucial to keeping them on board with the Apprenticeships programme.

Some cope better than others with change and there will of course be winners and losers. But the sector’s had plenty of practice at dealing with change: remember the introduction of core skills, key skills, and functional skills? We have to remain mindful of the opportunity to be found in change.

We could stress over timescales but better to pour our energy into shaping conversations with all stakeholders to make them aware of the changes, and to plan a future course of action agreeable to all.

Gareth Jones
GMLPF Apprenticeships Strategy Manager

Apprenticeship Reforms Update 3/5/16

Latest update on Apprenticeship Reforms from Gareth Jones, Apprenticeships Strategy Manager at GMLPF

Areas of focus: Coinvestment; Register of Apprenticeship Providers

On Friday, I attended the webinar held by Nick Linford with input from Keith Smith, Director of Levy Implementation at BIS. So following on from my post last week on the Levy, here are some additional points picked up from the webinar that I feel are worth sharing with GMLPF members. Some of you may have also attended the webinar, so if you have any additional comments, please feel free to add them below

  • All starts from the 6th April 2017 will be subject to co-investment. This means that even when employers recruit 16-18 year olds (who are currently fully funded) employers will have to pay a cash contribution to a provider to enable training to start (and for co-investment funds to be paid from the SFA to providers).
  • According to Keith Smith, like in the Trailblazer funding pilot, incentives may well offset the cash contributions but these are unknown. Provisional figures will be confirmed in June 2016.
  • From April 2017 to July 2017, providers will be given an electronic facility for Apprenticeship funding. This will replace allocations that providers have traditionally received. After July 2017 there will be no further funding allocated to providers. They will instead have access to the electronic facility to use as co-investment for Apprenticeship starts paid by non-levy paying employers
Register of Apprenticeship providers

There will be a new register introduced for those interested in delivering Apprenticeship provision. A consultation on this is due out in the next few weeks.

The current register (ROTO) is geared to SFA’s own contracting requirements. The new register will be different: more employer-centric, based on criteria that are relevant to employers when selecting a skills provider. BIS are currently consulting with employers on this but it may well include things like providers’ track records on Apprenticeship delivery, or the ability to demonstrate delivery of high quality provision elsewhere, if they don’t currently deliver Apprenticeships.

BIS want to keep the range of high quality provision available to employers as broad as possible, however there is a risk that some existing providers might not make it onto the new register. So far there has been no indication of what the criteria for inclusion on the register might be.

Food for thought

Providers and employers will be experiencing rapid change over the next 11 months.

Significant funding changes means that from 6th April 2017, all employers will have to contribute to the cost of Apprenticeship training regardless of the age of the apprentice they recruit.

Whilst incentives might be in place to offset this contribution, the sector is still set to face continued uncertainty. A new register for training providers also brings more complexity to the mix. I look forward to seeing the consultation on this in the coming weeks and responding to it on behalf of members.

Today I am attending another event on the Levy in London where Shadow Skills Minister, Gordon Marsden will be speaking. I will be providing further updates for GMLPF members after this.

Gareth Jones
GMLPF Apprenticeships Strategy Manager