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AELP responds to AoC ‘Opportunity England - 100% opportunity: the case for a tertiary education system’ report

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has welcomed the useful and insightful analysis into the current further education system published by the Association of Colleges in their ‘Opportunity England - 100% opportunity: the case for a tertiary education system’ report.

Responding to the report, AELP agrees we must have a tertiary education system which is effective, efficient and fair. In particular, this is vital if we are to reverse the long-term decline of apprenticeship numbers within small and medium sized employers (SMEs), as well as at entry level and among young people. Independent Training Providers will have to play a big role in delivering this.

An effective, efficient and fair system requires adequate and appropriate levels of funding – and in addition, AELP also wants to see key regulatory reforms that will enable SMEs and young people to access the system more easily, within the framework of a demand led system. Increased costs have impacted heavily on apprenticeship training providers in recent years, and as a result a sustainable and thriving apprenticeship system ultimately requires an immediate increase in the apprenticeship programme budget, so that it more accurately reflects the amount raised by the Apprenticeship Levy.

Ben Rowland, AELP Chief Executive, said:

“We of course agree with the AoC that we need an effective, efficient and fair further education system. The question is what we need to do to get there. As the report shows, we have a situation where the number of apprenticeship starts have decreased – especially within small and medium size employers and amongst younger people – and this is massively concerning.

“If we’re to create a ladder of opportunity throughout the skills system and – at the same time – tackle the country’s skills shortages, we will need much more investment in FE and skills. A good start would be to ensure that what is raised through the apprenticeship levy actually gets spent on apprenticeship training.

“We continue to push Government to make some relatively simple changes: remove the exit requirement for functional skills qualifications, improve End Point Assessment and integrate ‘ramp up’ pre-apprenticeship programmes into apprenticeships. This will make significant differences to the attractiveness of apprenticeships to employers and learners, including SMEs and younger apprentices. An SME ringfence and a premium for young people to recognise the cost of recruitment and additional support is should also be considered.

“While top slicing the levy for a national fund sounds like it’s worth investigating the key question is who decides how that is spent. The best skills systems are employer-led, and we should resist any moves away from the principles of employer choice or that would result in certain types of institution being artificially prioritised when they might not be the best or most effective organisation to support the employer and their apprentices.

“It is also worth pointing out that conspicuous by its absence in the report is any talk of the role of Independent Training Providers (ITPs). ITPs deliver the majority of apprenticeships and 89% of Skills Bootcamps, as a result they are a core part of any FE system and are as much anchor institutions as colleges.”

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) is a national membership body, proudly representing organisations operating in the skills sector. AELP members deliver a range of training and vocational learning – including the majority of apprenticeships as well as Skills Bootcamps, 16-19 Study Programme, Adult Education Budget and more.

For further information or interviews please contact Matt Strong, Communications Manager, AELP, on 07920 161685 or [email protected]

AELP responds to AoC ‘Opportunity England - 100% opportunity: the case for a tertiary education system’ report

You can read the report below.

Last published: 09/04/2024