Association of Employment and Learning Providers
Press release - 13 December 2017
Training leaders consider concerns about variable quality in the delivery of government funded skills programmes to be very over-stated following Ofsted’s confirmation today that four out of five independent training providers are good or outstanding.
The inspection results in the Chief Inspector’s Annual Report 2016-17 are pertinent to the Commons Education Committee inquiry on the quality of apprenticeship training which begins in the new year.
It also follows last week’s controversial outcome of the government’s apprenticeship non-levy procurement which saw grade 1 and 2 specialist providers denied an ESFA contract to continue delivering apprenticeships for smaller employers until April 2019, meaning that many of them could go into administration or cut experienced staff.
The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) believes that 80% of ITPs still being good or outstanding is a significant achievement given the weight of reform that has affected apprenticeship delivery over the past 12 months, both in terms of funding and the transition to the new standards.
Because of this show of resilience and flexibility, AELP cannot understand why ministers are content to allow the ESFA non-levy tender outcome to wipe out a significant number of high quality dedicated providers who are already on the apprenticeship register. These are the providers who have been driving up the number of apprenticeship starts for many years before ESFA decided to disrupt what was an effective market. It is a market that has rightly been added to in terms of new entrants, but it makes no sense to destroy already established quality providers who have a proven track record.
AELP has now written to the Education Secretary Justine Greening urging her to review the procurement outcome before providers have to start calling in the receivers.
AELP CEO Mark Dawe said:
‘Today we should be celebrating the Chief Inspector’s confirmation that so many training providers and colleges are delivering high quality learning to employers and individuals. Instead we are angry that a significant proportion of them may not be trading in a few months’ time because of an arbitrary decision to cull the market when employers will soon have the opportunity to decide for themselves which providers should benefit from the apprenticeship reforms.
‘Justine Greening’s own social mobility agenda will be seriously undermined if she disregards the Ofsted ratings in favour of the ESFA’s procurement decisions, leaving parts of the country without specialist apprenticeship provision in key sectors. She needs to act fast before lasting damage is done and the government’s 3 million apprenticeship target becomes an embarrassment.’