Association of Employment and Learning Providers
Press release – embargoed until 12 noon on Monday, 18 November 2019
Clearer expectations for the lead contractor of a government funded skills programme should be set out and complied with as the way of ensuring integrity in the subcontracting arrangements that are commonplace in the further education and skills sector.
In a submission to the Department for Education (DfE) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has argued that despite reported instances of malpractice and understandable frustration over unjustifiable management fees that some main providers top-slice before passing on the funding to the subcontractor, subcontracting should remain a feature of the system because it serves the interests of employers wanting the training.
AELP maintains that there is plenty of good practice in subcontracting but it would be more likely to be the norm if all main providers had to comply with new ESFA rules based on AELP’s recommendations which would improve quality and accountability. AELP also believes that Ofsted’s current review of subcontracting should also take the recommendations on board with a view to compliance being a focus in future inspections.
The AELP submission makes the following five key recommendations:
AELP CEO Mark Dawe said:
“Recent examples of subcontracting malpractice do not justify at all a call for an outright ban on subcontracting in the sector, but a much more robust approach on the part of the ESFA and Ofsted would make a huge difference in stopping further examples occurring.
“Over the last ten years, AELP feels that the ESFA has rather dragged its heels in making the required changes needed in its funding rules to put the issue to bed and we are probably now in the last chance saloon. By incorporating the recommendations in our submission into its rules, the agency can avoid ministers demanding a ban and at the same time offer assurance to employers and learners that the maximum amount of funding is reaching frontline provision.”
In the AELP submission, the proposed expectations for a main provider to maintain a collaborative and transparent partnership with a subcontractor cover:
AELP calls again for fees and charges not to exceed 20% of the funding – a recommendation that has been adopted by the GLA and other mayoral combined authorities but has been resisted by the ESFA for national skills programmes.
Mark Dawe added:
“Let’s have no more prevarication around this issue which has been damaging the sector’s reputation for far too long. Change the rules now!”
Link to full AELP submission: #76 Subcontracting expectations for a main provider NOV 2019
Contact Aidan Relf on 07710 305182