AELP responds to inclusion of a Skills Bill in the Queen’s Speech

 

The government has announced in the Queen’s Speech that it will introduce a Skills and Post-16 Education Bill to Parliament on 18 May.

The published details so far are available here: Prime Minister to revolutionise skills and training opportunities - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

AELP has also been briefed over the last month over the Bill’s likely contents which are relevant to ITPs and these are: 

  • Greater protection of learners and apprentices
  • ‘Fit and proper’ measures regarding provider control and/or ownership
  • Principles such as providers having a duty to “pay due regard” to the LSIPs, but not forced
  • Approval for technical qualifications and the role of Ofqual and IfATE in regulating
  • More focused requirements on ‘statutory providers’, i.e. not ITPs, in terms of their responsibilities
  • More powers around insolvency and intervention, again for statutory providers
  • Changes to account for the Lifelong Loan Entitlement and the student finance system.

 

Commenting on these, AELP CEO Jane Hickie said:

“Greater protection of learners and an application of a ‘fit and proper persons’ regime to the sector are entirely sensible.

“The Bill will also be welcomed by AELP members if it implements the white paper’s commitment to an employer centred approach by interpreting it as demand led. Requiring providers ‘to pay due regard’ to Local Skills Improvement Plans seems therefore reasonable.

“The key principle on learner protection should be to recognise that this is a two-way street in that government and providers have an equal responsibility to ensure that a committed learner should be able to complete their course or programme without significant disruption. AELP’s view is that rather than imposing artificial growth caps on providers, it is far preferable that Ofsted inspections/monitoring visits and ESFA audits act as potential breaks on growth if things are going wrong.

“Improvements can be achieved without saddling independent training providers with more bureaucracy and unnecessary costs. As Rachel Wolf wrote yesterday, we need less bureaucracy for apprenticeships and other skills entitlements. The skills minister has said that apprenticeships are “the golden ticket” to career progression and therefore putting obstacles against their supply by adding extra costs is not wise when more opportunities need to be created as part of the post-pandemic recovery effort.”

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