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