GMLPF & partners meet Matthew Hancock MP to discuss reforms

Last week, we were grateful to have the opportunity to raise our reform concerns with Minister for Skills, Matthew Hancock. James Glendenning, CEO at GMLPF, Brian Quinn of tpm, Andrew and Sarah Collinge, and Herbert Howe of Herbert of Liverpool met with the minister and Esther McVey MP on 3rd July.

During our session, the Minister listened to our outlines of:

  • the detrimental impact the reforms could have on employers and training providers
  • employers’ lack of understanding of reforms and their implications
  • activity undertaken by the North West Provider Network, including the facilitation of approximately 500 employer responses to the technical consultation, the vast majority of which express severe concerns and intentions to disengage with apprenticeships

Along with our partners at the meeting, GMLPF stressed the risk of proceeding without taking employer views into account, specifically requesting that the minister provide employers with choice.

In addition, we:

  • Suggested that a reliance on mandatory contributions is risky, given the history regarding contributions. The minister’s view was that SMEs recruiting 16-18 year olds would recoup the majority of the contribution via government payments
  • Pressed for more detail so learning providers can prepare effectively for transition and implementation. We highlighted that so far there has been little opportunity for them, as the “sales and delivery force” of Apprenticeships, to engage in dialogue with Government. We asked for providers to be involved in any further developments
  • Requested clarification on the expected roles of employers and training providers under new arrangements. We stressed that the lack of available detail around this adds to anxiety about the reforms

The minister acknowledged our concerns whilst reiterating that the reforms are necessary. He accepted that a fuller explanation of how and when payments would be triggered was essential, and that this would address concerns as to how employers and training providers could prepare themselves for navigating the system appropriately.

The minister recognised the large response to the technical consultation and confirmed his department were working through responses – noting that he would address concerns raised as “he genuinely wants the system to be as simple as possible and easy to access”. He finished by confirming that a Government announcement would be made soon, explaining how the programme will operate in practice. We look forward to hearing this announcement which hopefully will clarify many issues that remain nebulous.

Coming up next in GMLPF’s Apprenticeships Reform schedule:
  • First meeting of GMLPF’s Apprenticeships Reform Implementation Planning Group on 11th July
  • GMLPF and partners to meet with Liam Byrne MP in early September

NWPN update July 2014: LEP Growth Deals

By now most of you will have spotted and read the LEP Growth Deals that were announced on 7 July . These are really important announcements and when considered alongside the 2014-20 ESF programme represent a significant shift of resources and decision making to local level . They include the transfer of £330m of FE capital to LEPs for 15/16 and 16/17 ( £660m in total) and list the projects that are being supported together with the amount of local match that will be required .

Additionally they also announce that LEPs will have greater influence over the allocations of SFA budgets and greater control over any new funds . To me the direction of travel is obvious and is one that is shared by the main opposition party(Labour) as they launched the conclusions of the Adonis review last week which again proposed significant devolution of future skills budgets to local level .

You will want to look at your own local LEP growth deals as they also include specific local agreements that  LEPs have asked for eg Greater Manchester have secured £12m for 2 years from SFA budgets to support access to employment .

Turning now to NWPN activities following a really positive Board meeting in June . We discussed Apprenticeship Reform and the consultation response/lobbying activity that everyone has been progressing . We agreed that we need to continue  to push and argue ensuring that the voice of our employers is heard. Additionally though we also need to continue to make the case for public investment in  skills, recognising that with further spending cuts to come the skills budget is an easy target for government. We will continue to make the case up to the next election and beyond. We also agreed to strengthen our relationship with national and other regional/sub regional provider representative bodies. At regional level we are also looking to organise an apprenticeship trailblazer event for September, and a meeting between our Board and the chairs of each of the LEP skills and employment partnerships.

Have a good summer and I will produce my next update in early September

Melissa Murphy of Training Station wins Knowsley Apprentice Award

The Training Station celebrate Knowsley Apprentice Award

Friday 20th June saw hundreds of apprentices, employers and training providers attend Liverpool City Region Apprenticeship Awards 2014 in the Grand Marquee at Knowsley Hall. The glittering event was to recognise the region’s most committed training providers, employers and apprentices.

The Training Station had two finalists, both working  at The Graduates Salon. Apprentice Melissa Murphy won the Knowsley Apprentice of the Year  Award. Louise Richards also of The Graduates Salon was placed runner up.

Melissa and Louise were two of numerous entries in Liverpool City Region, The Training Station staff and students are proud of them both for such an achievement and prestigious award.


tpm logo

tpm featured in national toolkit for recruiting apprentices with disabilities

tpm has been featured as an example of best practice in a toolkit that encourages businesses to hire apprentices with disabilities or specific learning differences and difficulties.

Developed by NIACE, the toolkit is being widely promoted and provides practical information, sources of support and case studies of employers whose organisations have benefited from hiring disabled apprentices.

tpm were included in the toolkit because of their strategic and organisational work in this area which has resulted in consistently high rates of achievement by their apprentices with disabilities. Over the last decade, tpm and the Dyslexia Foundation have worked together to develop a comprehensive package of support to learners with learning difference and/or disabilities.

tpm have a solid culture of supporting and enabling staff and apprentices to reach their potential. The identification, diagnosis and support of disability and learning needs are central to their ethos and provision. tpm can demonstrate that their apprentices with dyslexia and other Specific Learning Difficulties achieve to the same level as apprentices who are not disabled.

Director of Operations, Brian Quinn comments

“This is a proud achievement for tpm. It represents the culmination of a passion for equality and diversity and for the best possible outcomes for staff and students alike.”

The toolkit was developed by The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), funded by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and is supported by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).

View tpm in NIACE’s employer toolkit

For further information on learner-support, learning difference and inclusive practice contact Brian Quinn.

Apprentices on tall ship return successfully after sail

GMLPF sponsored apprentices successfully complete tall ship sail

Five apprentices sailed into the Albert Dock last Friday after being sponsored by GMLPF to participate in a week-long sail from Whitehaven to Liverpool on a tall ship. The apprentices were in good spirits, looking tanned and windswept after several days at sea. All seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed their experience.

The week-long voyage on the Class A tall ship, Pelican of London, formed part of the ApprenticeShip Cup regatta, hosted and managed by Merseyside Adventure Sailing Trust (MAST). The regatta involved several tall ships, and provided the apprentices with the opportunity to stretch and develop in a challenging but safe environment.


The apprentices who successfully completed on the Pelican were Michael Gibbons (apprentice with Wirral Metropolitan College), Ellie Gardam and Lauren Monroe (apprentices with Lite Ltd), and Bradley Stead and Matt Watkinson (apprentices with Riverside College).


During the voyage, the apprentices were trained in all aspects of running a ship, including steering, setting sails, keeping watch, navigating and climbing the rigging. The Pelican sailed from Whitehaven to Liverpool via Belfast with a circuit of the Isle of Man.

The apprentices will receive the internationally recognised RYA Competent Crew qualification and other recognition for their participation.

Personal growth

James Glendenning, CEO of GMLPF said

“The Apprentice Ship Cup was a unique chance for local apprentices to apply the skills they have been developing on their apprenticeship in a new and challenging environment – skills like team work, communication and leadership.

“GMLPF is proud to have supported these five apprentices in this exciting venture. I have no doubt that completing the voyage will lead to significant personal growth, which will benefit both themselves as individuals, and their employers. I’d like to congratulate them all for their commitment and achievement.”

NWPN update June 2014



Apologies for not producing my monthly update for a few months but all of our attention has been focused on responding to the apprenticeship funding consultation. I want to start with this very issue – looking at where we are now and our next steps.

Apprenticeships Reform

In terms of our response to the funding consultation we did a superb job in encouraging over 450 employers across the North West to respond. This also helped inform a NWPN Provider response to the consultation which stressed that this  response was a summary of what NW employers are saying. The key message is that the majority of employers won’t employ apprenticeships in the future if the changes go ahead and the vast majority want apprenticeship funding to continue to go through employers if that is what the employer wants. Very powerful messages and an excellent response- well done to all involved. Each of our sub regions are now talking to ‘influencers’ eg Chambers, MPs, LEPs to ensure that they understand the proposals and the negative impact that they will have on apprenticeships if implemented

It is important to remember though that the consultation was only about the routing of apprenticeship funding and implementation on other aspects have continued through trailblazers and at the time of writing ministers are about to publish the rates for trailblazers, the level of employer contribution and the additional payments for 16-18 year olds, small employers (defined as under 50 employees) and achievement. It is important that we all read and understand .


Turning now to other matters. LEPs have now produced their latest plans for the 2014-20 European programmes but it is likely to be the turn of the year before they go out to tender . Over the next 6 months it is important to keep in touch to understand what is likely to be tendered for and what bidding/delivery partnerships need to put in place, remembering that the procurement area for most contracts will be LEP boundaries . The tenders will either come from SFA, DWP, Big Lottery or direct contracting from the LEP itself . Don’t forget that there are still significant resources available in the current programme with many of you holding contracts or being sub contractors.

LEPs will also receive confirmation in July of what support they will receive from government for their local growth plans (contained within their Strategic Economic Plans). These are really important both in terms of budgets that LEPs will receive (including FE capital) but also signalling what further  powers and authority government intends to give to LEPs. At this stage I think that City Regions will be in the strongest position

Paul Holme

Chair NWPN

Dylan Jones winner of Sefton Apprentice of the Year

High proportion of LCR Apprenticeship Award winners supported by independent providers

Many of the winning apprentices and employers in this year’s Liverpool City Region Apprenticeship Awards received support from GMLPF’s independent, smaller training provider members.

The prestigious awards, which were held on 20th June at Lord Derby’s Estate in Knowsley, recognised and celebrated the achievements of Liverpool City Region’s most accomplished apprentices and committed employers. These included winners supported by the following GMLPF independent smaller learning provider members:

  • Dylan Jones (pictured above with Emma Sinnett from award sponsor, Mode Training) won the title of Sefton Apprentice of the Year 2014, trained and supported by Asset Training
  • Jess Lowry won the title of Liverpool Apprentice of the Year 2014, trained and supported by Mode Training
  • Melissa Murphy won the title of Knowsley Apprentice of the Year 2014, trained and supported by The Training Station
  • Bethany West won The Peter McEvoy Award for Overcoming Adversity, trained and supported by Riverside Learning and Education Centre
  • Sarah Noonan Hairdressing won the New Employer of the Year Award, with training and support provided by Mode Training

Also worthy of mention are GMLPF member, tpm, who had 2 out of 3 finalists in the SME Apprentice of the Year category and a finalist for The Peter McEvoy Award. Other GMLPF members with finalists included Michael John Academy and North West Training Council

Training provider role

James Glendenning, CEO of GMLPF, highlights how the achievements of the winning apprentices and employers are outstanding in their own right but also a reflection of the standard of training and support provided by the region’s highly effective and proficient training providers and colleges.

“Sometimes the role that training providers play in the Apprenticeships jigsaw is overlooked. These organisations provide the professional training to the high industry standards required by the Apprenticeship programme, tailoring their services to meet the individual needs of apprentices, and also to fit in with employers’ varied and diverse operating environments.

Unswerving dedication

“Providing this level of intensive support is challenging at the best of times, operating within an arena where policy change and funding upheaval are constant factors. It’s particularly hard for the smaller, independent training provider which is why I’m delighted that so many of them have winners in this year’s Awards, reflecting these organisations’ unswerving dedication to facilitating successful futures for our region’s young people.

“The Government’s proposed Apprenticeships Reforms spell even more challenges ahead but I have no doubt that these training providers will continue to deliver the highest quality Apprenticeships training and support for apprentices and employers in our region.”

apprenticeships presentation

GMLPF sets up school support strategy group

GMLPF is setting up a schools support strategy group to formulate the best way of supporting schools who now have a statutory duty to provide their pupils with independent careers advice.

GMLPF members have been invited to join the group which will which consider the range of support services GMLPF and its members can offer. Examples of services available to schools include: industry talks, CV writing, careers evenings, taster sessions, mock interviews, Apprenticeships presentations, Apprenticeships Q&A sessions, parent workshops, and talks by ex-apprentices. In addition, many members are in a position to support schools in the development of alternative curriculum programmes.

Supporting schools is a priority for GMLPF. We have recently put significant resource into developing communications with schools and this is already generating a keen interest in the services we can offer in conjunction with our members. Recent and ongoing projects include:

  • Sponsorship of Educate Awards 2013 and 2014
  • Educate magazine
  • Good to Go magazine
  • Schools Expo 2014
  • Development of Mapped Out online

For further information on the Schools Strategy Support Group please contact [email protected]

For further information on free support services for schools available from GMLPF and its members, please email [email protected]


Mapped Out Online

GMLPF is currently developing an online version of the printed version of Mapped Out which is used extensively across the region. Mapped Out Online will be situated on the GMLPF website.

Mapped Out Online is being developed to provide a user-friendly search function for the public, careers advisors and schools careers teachers to identify available local provision for 16 to 18 year olds, including Apprenticeships, Traineeships and Study Programmes.

Key tool

As well as listing provision across Liverpool City Region, the online system will provide individual provider information including location, facilities and support offered. It is hoped that the system will become a key tool for helping inform young people, parents and advisors about options at 16. A comprehensive awareness raising campaign is planned once the system has been developed.

Member training

Work on Mapped Out Online has already commenced. We envisage that by late August/early September the system will be developed to the point that we can invite GMLPF members to upload their provision and information onto the system. We will be running short training sessions to help members undertake this.

GMLPF would like to thank Connexions for their input into the project so far. We will be continuing to consult with them to ensure that as far as possible the system supports advisors who are explaining options to young people.

If you require any further details, please contact Pavlina on 07779 102 139 or [email protected]

Reforms Lobbying

Since the close of the Apprenticeships Funding Reform Technical Consultation, GMLPF has met with six local MPs to highlight our concerns about the negative impact of the reforms on apprentice employers, school leavers, learners with disabilities, and apprenticeship providers.

Luciana Berger, Labour and Co-operative MP for Wavertree Liverpool, who we met with last week, has already raised our concerns in parliament. This week we are meeting with Ester McVey, Conservative MP for Wirral West and Minister for Skills, Matthew Hancock to discuss the implications of the reforms.

GMLPF also sits on the Impact Assessment Group, set up by the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson and chaired by Nick Small, to understand the impact of the reforms across Liverpool City Region, a group which also includes GMLPF member, tpm. We are also hoping to meet with leader of Knowsley Local Authority, Councillor Ron Rounds in the near future.