Hundreds of pupils get Apprenticeship savvy at What Career Live

GMLPF supported by staff from Mode Training, Sysco, JM Education and Training and Wirral Met College attended the What Career Live event held at the Liverpool Exhibition Centre on 23rd March offering advice and support to students across Years 10 to 13 about Apprenticeships. This was supported through the ASK (Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge) programme.

We provided a keynote talk on Apprenticeships to debunk some of the myths, and spoke to 30 schools and over 200 students on the day. 95 students to register on Find An Apprenticeship on our stand. Encouragingly, there was lots of interest on Apprenticeships from Years 12 and 13 students.

Through the event we also raised £39 for Sport Relief. A big thanks to GMLPF members who released staff to help us on the day

Apprenticeships Funding Workshop: Helping Providers Prepare for new ESFA Financial Assurance Audits 19th March 2018

This workshop helps Apprenticeships providers prepare for the new ESFA financial assurance audits.

The half day workshop looks at the context for the new audits, scope, implications for providers, avoiding pitfalls, and next steps.

The workshop is delivered by Beej Kaczmarczyk, widely recognized as a leading FE funding and planning specialist with in-depth knowledge of post-reform Apprenticeships.

Delegates will have a chance to raise any specific queries they have about the audits prior to the workshop, ensuring their issues will be dealt with during the session.


The date of this workshop is 19th March 2018 from 9.30am to 1pm (registration from 9am). A light lunch will be served afterwards


The workshop will be held at MACTAC Training, Blenheim Street, Liverpool, L5 8UX. Free on-street parking is available – this is a residential area so please respect access to people’s properties.

Book Nowplaces limited

For further information please email [email protected]

Adult Education Budget

Members may have heard the recent news about the AEB programme delivering a significant financial underspend. This is very disappointing given the fact that a number of our members, with excellent track records of delivering AEB, were not awarded a contract this year due to their tenders falling below the £100,000 contract threshold.  We have highlighted this issue to the Combined Authority as  the underspend  and reduction in local AEB supplier base may have implications on the level of funding being allocated to the Liverpool City Region funding in future.

Coupled with this, there are ongoing issues with the DfE over the devolution of the AEB budget to the 6 areas, including the Liverpool City Region,  with Metro Mayors recently meeting the DfE to raise their concerns about the pace and process of the AEB devolution. 

GMLPF and the Combined Authority recently facilitated some workshops with members to understand how AEB resources were being used with a view to informing future investment decisions. Data provided by members is currently being analysed.

GMLPF will continue to update members on the future management of AEB.

Impact of Apprenticeship Reforms update 2/3/18

In her recent webinar, Anne Milton shared her belief that the acquisition of new standards will pick up pace with the number of Apprenticeship starts following suit.

In contrast, data published last week highlighted that only 27,000 individuals started an Apprenticeship in November (All Ages All Levels) in England, significantly lower than the level of starts in September (61,300) and October (37,000).

Locally, GMLPF through its Health and Social Care Forum, has been mapping out with members the impact of Apprenticeship reforms on starts in the health and social care sector, over a 15 month period spanning November 2016-January 2018. This is an ongoing piece of work and a snapshot of the data generated currently reveals the following:

  • Volatility
    The market has been highly volatile since Feb 17 with huge demand in March and April 17 and then again in December 17 – these dates preceding the introduction of the reforms in May 17 and new Standards being introduced in January 18
  • Downward trend in starts
    There is a general downward trend in the number of starts. Over the 15 month period an average of 66 individuals started an Apprenticeship each month. The average for the first 4 months of the period covered by the survey was 68.75. Over the period May to October 17 the average number of starts each month was 20. Over the period May 17 to January 2018 it was 33 which is, in broad terms, a 50% reduction in the number of starts.

Guidance release on Apprenticeship funds transfer

The Government have released guidance on the transfer of Apprenticeship funds.

From April 2018 employers who pay the apprenticeship levy will be able to transfer apprenticeship funds to other organisations.

Employers who want to transfer funds can find employers who want to receive a transfer in a number of ways, for example:

  • work with an employer in your supply chain
  • get in touch with employers in your industry
  • get in touch with an Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA)
  • work with regional partners

Employers can transfer a maximum of 10% of annual funds. This is worked out from the total amount of levy declared, with the English % applied, plus the 10% government top-up payment.

These funds will be used to pay for the training and assessment cost of the apprenticeships agreed with the receiving employer and will be paid monthly for the duration of the apprenticeship.

Only levy-paying employers can make a transfer. Any employer can receive and use transferred funds, but they have to be registered on the apprenticeship service. A transfer can only be used to pay for training and assessment for apprenticeship standards.

Full guidance for transfer of Apprenticeship funds

National Apprenticeships Week 2018 #NAW2018

This year’s National Apprenticeship Week (NAW2018) runs from 5th to 9th March. The focus this year is on how Apprenticeships Work for individuals, employers, local communities and the wider economy. Themes include #WorksForMe – an opportunity for individuals, businesses, organisations and communities to share their own story about how Apprenticeships have worked for them. Another is #10kTalks – aiming to speak to 10,000 people during the week about the benefits of Apprenticeships. GMLPF is contributing to and supporting these themes, and highlighting what activities our members have planned

GMLPF activities include:

Employer presentations

GMLPF CEO Ian Lomas has been asked to speak to employers in Knowsley on 7th March, in conjunction with LCR Apprenticeship Hub, about the benefits of Apprenticeships and the additional benefits that relationships with Apprenticeships providers bring to your business. #10kTalks

The Big Assembly

GMLPF will be supporting the #BigAssembly, the UK’s biggest Careers & Apprenticeships online presentation. We’ll be encouraging involvement from Liverpool City Region schools who have participated in our ASK (Apprenticeships Support & Knowledge in schools) programme to date. We’ll be targeting them through e-bulletins, social media activity and blogs #10kTalks #Big Assembly 

ASK Project

GMLPF and partners are working with St Julie’s, St Francis of Assisi, Fazakerly and Litherland schools during Apprenticeship Week to deliver ASK activities; careers events, assemblies and FAA registrations as part of NAW2018. #10kTalks 

Become an Apprenticeship Champion

GMLPF is working with BL Training to deliver the ASK project. One of our objectives is to develop a network of Apprentice Champions.We’re inviting members to register  as an Apprentice Champion. It is free and all Apprentice Champions can access an array of valuable information on Apprenticeships. GMLPF is hoping Liverpool City Region will have the biggest local network of champions in the country so please take a few minutes out to register.

Apprenticeship Workshops for Members

In response to feedback from members that mental health is both a real issue for learners, and a training and development need for training organisations, GMLPF is establishing a member working group to ascertain the nature and scale of the issue, what needs members have and how GMLPF might take forward development activity on behalf of members. #10kTalks

On Thursday, GMLPF is holding an English and maths exchange workshop facilitated by the ETF to explore relevant issues, share good practice and establish what development needs members have.

GMLPF Member Activities

We are keen to promote activities planned by members as part of a wider calendar of activities. We already know of a number of planned events including:

  • TRS Training Ltd in partnership with The Road Haulage Association are speaking to employers across the country about using Apprenticeships as a vehicle for addressing the UK shortage in LGV Drivers #10kTalks
  • Mode Training launching [email protected] initiative detailing businesses and students who have achieved success through Apprenticeships at Mode #WorksForMe

Please let [email protected] know of any planned activities that we can promote via our own website and the LCR Apprenticeship Hub website.

The LCR Apprenticeship Hub has a number of activities planned for NAW 2018. These include employer  Apprenticeship briefings:

Monday 5th March 09:30 – 11:00 Liverpool & Sefton Chamber of Commerce      
Please email to book [email protected]

Tuesday 6th March 07.30 – 09.30 Halton Chamber of Commerce, Holiday Inn Runcorn 
Please email to book   [email protected]

Tuesday 6th March 09:30 – 11:00 St Helens Chamber of Commerce       
Please email to book [email protected]                   

Wednesday 7th March 07.45 – 09:30 Knowsley Chamber of Commerce, Suites Hotel, Knowsley 
Please email to book [email protected]

Thursday 8th March 08.00 – 09.30 Wirral Chamber, Wirral
Book here


New Schools Statutory Guidance on Careers Advice Spells Out Access for Providers

Following the publication of the Government’s Careers Strategy in December 2017, the DfE have this month issued revised statutory guidance for schools regarding their duties relating to independent careers guidance. Of particular relevance to GMLPF members is the new legal duty for schools to provide access to providers of technical education and Apprenticeships.

Key points from the Careers Strategy and Statutory Guidance (Careers Guidance And Access for Education and Training Providers) of relevance to GMLPF members are as follows:

  • Gatsby Benchmarks
    The Careers Strategy and Statutory Guidance recommends that secondary schools and academies should adopt the Gatsby Charitable Foundation’s Benchmarks to develop/improve careers provision.
  • Benchmark 7
    States that by age 16 “every pupil should have had a meaningful encounter with providers of the full range of learning opportunities…… including Apprenticeship providers.”
  • Apprenticeships
    The Statutory Guidance states that “every school must ensure that there is an opportunity for a range of education and training providers to access all pupils in year 8 to year 13 for the purpose of informing them about approved technical education qualifications or Apprenticeships.”
  • Policy Statement
    Every school MUST publish a “policy statement setting out their arrangements for provider access and ensure that it is followed”. Schools must publish this on their website. The Guidance provides an example of a policy statement on provider access and this features a named contact that providers should contact to request access to pupils.
  • No exceptions
    Schools MUST make provider visits available to ALL pupils, and “should not do anything which might limit the ability of pupils to attend”. Examples of unacceptable behaviours are given as “restricting invitations to selected groups of pupils”.
  • ASK programme
    It is suggested that schools make use of locally available support, such as the ASK programme, which GMLPF is contracted to deliver to schools with the support of members.
  • Labour Market Information
    It is advised that schools should ensure that all pupils have made use of information about career paths and labour market information to inform their decisions. Here, it is obvious that information and data about Liverpool City Region Growth Sectors and associated opportunities will be particularly useful for local schools.
  • Addressing individual pupil needs
    In relation to careers advice, schools are advised to ensure that “young people from all backgrounds, gender and diversity groups, including those with special education needs and disabilities consider the widest possible range of careers.” They should also take particular care to identify those pupils who are at risk of non-participation post 16 and draw support to ensure transition into further education or training. Here, GMLPF members who have historical success in supporting these sectors of the community have a strong offer to make to schools.

Building on our experience of delivering Apprenticeships information sessions in schools as part of the ASK programme, GMLPF will be considering the scope of contributing to a coordinated support service for schools to help them deliver duties relating to provision of information about Apprenticeships and other vocational options.  

In the meantime, we strongly recommend that GMLPF members hoping to build relations with schools:

  • Familiarise themselves thoroughly with the Careers Strategy, Statutory Guidance and Gatsby Benchmarks
  • Familiarise themselves with LCR Growth Sector information and opportunities
  • From now on, review policy statements on schools’ websites to identify named contacts to arrange visits to increase likelihood of “speaking to the right person”
  • Consider tailoring approach to schools based on their duties as outlined in the revised statutory guidance, showing how as an Apprenticeship/vocational training provider you can help them meet their obligations

We would be interested to know your views on the revised guidance, especially suggestions for a coordinated approach for supporting schools. Please email [email protected]

DfE Statutory Guidance and Access for Education and Training Providers Jan 2018 


Statistical First Release: Apprenticeship Starts Aug-Oct 2017 (Qtr 1)

GMLPF has undertaken some initial analysis of the SFR Apprenticeship Starts data published on the 25th January 2018. It has not been possible yet to compare and contrast starts data for the period August to October 2017 with the corresponding period for 2016 for the Liverpool City Region.  However, it is clear that Apprenticeship starts are low relative to previous years.

Further analysis will be undertaken, for example timeframe comparisons and sectoral analysis, when data becomes available.

Several key messages emerge:

  • Nationally, Apprenticeship starts are significantly down year on year, continuing the trend identified in the previous quarter.
  • On current levels of starts it is highly unlikely that the Liverpool City Region will match the number of starts achieved in 2016/17. To achieve that level, some 15,180 individuals would need to start an Apprenticeship over the next three quarters. This equates to some 5,060 individuals each quarter or a 50% increase on current levels.
National Picture

The Government’s manifesto 3m Apprenticeship starts target would appear to be highly ambitious given the recent publication of starts data. Total Apprenticeship starts have fallen by 41% over the period May-October 2017 when compared to the corresponding period in 2016. This analysis continues to highlight the impact of Apprenticeship reforms.

LCR Picture

The table below illustrates the total number of (All Age) Apprenticeship starts by Local Authority area over the last 6 full delivery years.

LEA/LA/Region/England 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Full Year (Provisional)
Knowsley 2,910 2,560 2,010 2,180 2,140 2,160
Liverpool 7290 6120 4600 5080 5130 5310
Halton 2010 1630 1420 1420 1440 1430
Sefton 3840 3860 2890 3100 3090 3330
St Helens 2850 2330 2080 2260 2390 2280
Wirral 4870 4510 3530 3850 4130 4070
LCR 23,770 21,010 16,530 17,890 18,320 18,580
North West 89310 84180 71670 79310 80820 79170
England 515000 504200 434600 494200 503900 485500


The table reveals that Apprenticeship starts were relatively stable over the period 2014/15 to 2016/17 with circa 18,000 Starts per annum.

An analysis of the Statistical First Release data for Apprenticeship starts (August-October) by Local Authority area and by age group and level of Apprenticeship reveals the following:

Statistical First Release Jan 18: Apprenticeship Starts by Age Aug-Oct 2017
Local Authority Area 16-18 19-24 25+ Total
Halton   110 80 90 280
Knowsley   150 100 140 390
Liverpool   290 220 360 870
St Helens   190 120 130 440
Sefton   230 190 190 610
Wirral   300 240 280 810
LCR Total   1270 950 1190 3400
%   37.4% 27.9% 35.0% 100%
Statistical First Release Jan 18: Apprenticeship Starts by Level Aug-Oct 2017
Local Authority Area Intermediate Advanced Higher Total
Halton   110 140 30 280
Knowsley   190 160 40 390
Liverpool   400 370 100 870
St Helens   180 210 50 440
Sefton   270 260 70 610
Wirral   340 370 100 810
LCR Total   1490 1510 390 3400
%   43.8% 44.4% 11.5% 100%


What is apparent from the above tables is that:

  • Total starts in Quarter 1 (3400) equates to 18.3% of the total number of starts in the 2016/17 year. Given historical recruitment patterns (where recruitment of apprentices, in particular 16-18 is higher, in Quarter 1) this figures appears to be low and would require significant volumes of new starts for the City Region to achieve the level of starts in the previous year.
  • It would appear that, in contrast to the previous year, the number of 25 years olds and over has decreased significantly. In 2016/17, 47% of those starting an Apprenticeship were aged 25 and over in contrast to 35% currently. Starts by those aged 16-18 appear to have increased.
  • The profile of Apprenticeship starts by Level appears to confirm an emerging trend whereby the number of starts at Intermediate level are decreasing and there is an increasing shift towards advanced and higher level

ESFA Non-Levy Procurement Results

Results of this recent tender exercise were published by the ESFA the week ending the 8th December. We understand that there may be a delay in the ESFA issuing contracts due to several organisations challenging their results.

Funding cut by a third

It is clear that the procurement exercise was over-subscribed at a national level. LCR based providers faced fierce competition, with most organisations having funding requests cut by a third or more it would seem.

Minimum contract value

We are aware that a small number of members have been unsuccessful in receiving a non-Levy funding allocation. Some of these submitted high quality proposals that met and exceeded the scoring criteria. However they have not been awarded an allocation because, following a pro rate reduction by the ESFA, their tender value fell below the £200,000 minimum contract value.

GMLPF survey results

GMLPF surveyed members on the outcomes of the procurement exercise. Despite submitting successful tenders, most members have received allocations significantly below what they anticipated. A number of key messages emerge from our survey, these are:

  • 75% of members who were successful in the tendering exercise believe that the reduced funding allocation will have a negative impact on their organisation
  • 56% indicated that there will be reduced Starts in contrast to only 13% suggesting that they will be able to increase Starts.
  • 44% indicated that there would be reduced provision ie they will cease to deliver certain learning programmes

GMLPF has been working with the LCR Employment and Skills team to raise awareness of the potential consequences of this procurement with the Metropolitan Mayor. There is a concern that the reduced allocations may impact negatively upon the capacity and capability of the local supplier base and their ability to address emerging skills issues.

GMLPF would also like to broker relationships between members who were unsuccessful or have reduced allocation, and those who might now be looking for potential delivery partners. If anybody is looking for delivery partners based in the Liverpool City Region then please contact Ian Lomas at GMLPF on [email protected] or 0151 707 8775

Check back to the GMLPF website for further updates

New GMLPF CEO pledges to speak for Apprenticeship providers at regional and national level

GMLPF is pleased to announce the appointment of Ian Lomas as Chief Executive Officer.

Ian brings with him over 25 years of experience in the education, training and skills sector. He moved to Merseyside in 1992 where he worked at Qualitec in St Helens for the NW Training and Enterpise Council (TEC) Network before moving to Merseyside TEC. In both these roles, he led on European Union funding and skills policy work.

Prior experience

In 2000, he joined a local consultancy practice, Community Concepts Ltd, where he was Development Director. Whilst at Community Concepts Ltd, Ian was the company’s lead on education, training and skills as well as enterprise and employment issues. During this time, Ian worked with a number of GMLPF members and key stakeholders across the Liverpool City Region including the LCR Employment and Skills Team. He recently developed the LCR Apprenticeship Hub strategy for the period 2015-2020.

Opportunities for members

Ian is looking forward to working with both GMLPF members and strategic partners in the region:

“I’m delighted to join GMLPF at what is both an exciting yet challenging time in the learning and skills landscape. There are many opportunities for GMLPF members in the City Region and I am committed to helping them continue to grow and develop. A key priority for me is to ensure GMLPF accurately captures and represents our members’ collective voice at regional and national level.

“I look forward also to collaborating with our local strategic partners in the Liverpool City Region and further afield in the North, ensuring that we maintain a strong focus on skills development , quality and growth and that our provision addresses the needs of learners and employers whilst delivering real impact.”

GMLPF Mission

Greater Merseyside Learning Providers Federation (GMLPF) is a membership organisation that champions and supports approximately 100 Liverpool City Region skills and education providers.

Our mission is to drive the prosperity of Liverpool City Region by building a foundation of skills for economic success. We do this by supporting the evolution of education and skills providers to meet local and national priorities, for the benefit of individuals, communities and businesses in the region.

We support our members, the education and skills providers of Liverpool City Region, by

• Providing a single voice that represents our members’ views and priorities
• Helping our members meet the changing skills needs of our region’s people, communities and businesses
• Helping our members adapt to shifts in the local and national skills funding landscape
• Raising awareness of our members’ services to employers, schools, young people and parents.
• Promote Apprenticeships as viable respectable career options at 16 and beyond
• Helping our members to flourish as organisations in their own right