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
Jan: publish v1
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.
Apprenticeships Strategy Manager