Today’s post comes courtesy of Roger Francis, HR & Services Director at MindLeaders ThirdForce
Last week, the coalition government used the Annual Conference of the Association of Colleges (AoC) to launch some major new Apprenticeship initiatives. There were keynote speeches from John Hayes, the Minister for Further Education and Vince Cable, the Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Three key policy proposals appear to have emerged:
- Firstly, the government is going to provide a grant of £1500 to companies with less than 50 employees for each 16-18 year old Apprentice they take on. This will be in addition to the normal Apprenticeship funding. It would appear to be a clear attempt to encourage a switch away from large company schemes which have tended to focus on existing employees over the age of 25.
- Secondly, in an attempt to cut red tape, the government is setting up a fund of £250m as part of a pilot scheme to channel funding directly through to employers who can then develop their own vocational training programmes. We are very excited about this initiative and see it as a great opportunity to work in partnership with our clients to develop relevant and successful new programmes.
- Thirdly, the government wants all Apprentices to be offered the opportunity to develop their Literacy and Numeracy skills through to Level 2 (the equivalent of a GCSE).
This last point requires some urgent clarification from the government. Most training providers have now finally accepted that Functional Skills will become a mandatory component of the Apprenticeship framework from October 2012. However, the assumption has always been that for Level 2 Apprenticeships, the requirement would be Level 1 Functional Skills. Mr Cable is now going further by offering all Apprentices the opportunity to continue their literacy and numeracy studies to GCSE level with Level 2 Functional Skills.
This is excellent news, but how will it be funded? Funding levels for Level 1 Functional Skills are already a matter of serious concern for training providers. Now that all Apprentices must be offered the progression to Level 2, where is the funding going to come from for those learners who choose to do so?
Mindleaders Thirdforce remain totally committed to the move from Key Skills to Functional Skills and are confident that our innovative delivery solution will provide an exciting and engaging experience for learners. However, now we all need to understand exactly what we will be expected to deliver and whether any additional funding will be available.
So can you help us Mr Cable?