Association of Employment and Learning Providers
Press release: Embargoed until Tuesday, 05 May 2020 at 00.01hrs
Training providers are facing a massive Covid-related cash squeeze because employers have stopped recruiting new apprentices and the lockdown is preventing existing apprentices from being able to complete their training programmes.
The latest findings from an Association of Employment and Learning Providers provider survey come as education ministers continue to resist applying Cabinet Office supplier protection guidelines to the vast majority of apprenticeships and in doing so, according to a leading QC in public law, are committing “a multiplicity of legal errors”.
The third AELP Covid impact survey has found that:
Training providers only start receiving funding from the government’s Education and Skills Funding Agency when an apprentice starts training and 20% of the total funding depends on the apprentice completing the programme. The survey results have therefore confirmed that training provider cashflow is being badly squeezed at both ends of the apprenticeship pipeline, threatening the survival hopes of providers the longer the lockdown continues and the longer DfE ministers refuse to provide financial support in respect of the two-thirds of apprenticeships which are funded by the apprenticeship levy.
80 providers working with 12,458 businesses employing 35,350 apprentices responded to the third impact survey which AELP has conducted since the beginning of the pandemic.
AELP chief executive Mark Dawe said:
“Training providers have done an amazing job to keep training going remotely for apprentices, but they can’t do this indefinitely if their income is running dry.
“The government needs to support young people with apprenticeships now and to reskill unemployed adults, and it needs good quality training providers operating around the country to be able to do this.
“This latest survey confirms again that CBILs do not offer the solution that the education ministers expect and so they should be looking at extending their Covid supplier relief scheme to cover all apprenticeships in line with the Cabinet Office guidance.
“Contrary to comments made, training providers are not just like any other private business. They are government contractors delivering the government’s flagship skills programmes which will be critical after the pandemic is over. No Treasury money is required for the DfE to preserve the provider infrastructure needed but time is now running short before we start seeing high quality and niche providers lost for good.”
Legal advice on DfE’s non-compliance with Cabinet Office guidelines
On the question of DfE financial support for apprenticeships, the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told the Commons Education Committee on 29 April: “We always comply with Cabinet Office guidance and we always will do”. But a leading QC in public law disagrees and has opined strongly that the apprenticeships of levy paying employers should be supported by government under the Cabinet Office supplier relief guidelines. These apprenticeships make up two-thirds of the total programme.
The legal advice letter and the AELP background briefing are here:
VWV letter referring to the non-compliance as an ‘abuse of power’: https://bit.ly/2SA59AS
AELP background note: https://bit.ly/3b1BZRI
Sector findings in the survey
Providers were asked in the survey how apprenticeship delivery was being adversely affected in particular sectors. The sectors which stood out in this regard were:
Agriculture, the professions, creative industries and health & science are among those sectors which are relatively unscathed.
Contact Aidan Relf on 07710 305182
Notes to editors: