Skills Bill – LSIPs mustn’t be a trojan horse to interfere unnecessarily in employer demand for skills

In response to the publication of the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill on 18 May, Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Jane Hickie said:

General comment
AELP welcomed the employer-informed approach of the white paper and is therefore generally comfortable with the direction of travel that the bill is pursuing, providing that it preserves the employer demand-led principles that successive governments have adopted since the 2006 Leitch review and which are now firmly embedded in the provision of apprenticeships.

LSIPs
The Lords can play a very useful role in probing the government on how the legislation’s clauses on local skills improvement plans will apply in practice to ITPs, especially as the impact assessment document states that the duty to ‘have regard’ to local skills improvement plans does not mean that an ITP is required to implement the local skills improvement plan or deliver the skills needs outlined in the plan.”

AELP hopes that LSIPs are not being set up by the DfE as a trojan horse which then act as decision-makers over how funding is allocated locally. Nor should they become closed shops for favoured colleges and providers because they then become another supply-side mechanism which could interfere in genuine demand for skills expressed by employers and learners. ITPs are renowned for their responsiveness in meeting the demand for skills from their local SMEs, also implicitly acknowledged by the impact assessment document which says that the employer representative bodies point to difficulty in accessing support from colleges. So nothing in this bill should get in the way of well-established ITP responsiveness.”

List of relevant providers
We have no argument with new legislative measures to protect the interests of learners if ministers feel more are necessary but they should be proportionate. AELP supports and understands why providers on the list of relevant providers should be ‘fit and proper persons’. Student support plans are already required by the ESFA rules. Where we have serious concerns however is that being on the list will, according to the government, have ‘significant impact’ on the costs of smaller providers because for example of the imposition of professional indemnity insurance. If this is a backdoor method of trying to reduce the number of ITPs in the market, it could backfire because many are either specialist providers or serve areas out of easy reach of a local college. The bill’s provisions on this require therefore careful scrutiny.”

Link to the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill: Skills and Post-16 Education Bill [HL] publications - Parliamentary Bills - UK Parliament

Link to DfE impact assessment of the Bill: Skills and Post-16 Education Bill: impact assessment and JCHR memorandum - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

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