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Archive for November, 2011

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?

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Today’s post comes courtesy of Roger Francis, MindLeaders ThirdForce HR and Services Director

Yesterday I attended a debate at the House of Commons organised by Nick Linford of FE Week. There were about 70-80 key stakeholders in the Apprenticeship arena present together with the Shadow Further Education Minister and the Chair of the Business Innovation and Skills Select Committee.

Whilst there were serious concerns expressed about the value of some existing apprenticeship programmes, the key question for me was about the fundamental purpose of Apprenticeships. I think there was general agreement that Apprenticeships are not going to fix the problem of youth unemployment. The real purpose is to upskill the UK Plc workforce in order to remain competitive in the 21st century.

With that in mind, I believe that apprenticeship programmes should be judged not in terms of their length or the numbers on programme, but as to whether they genuinely result in learner career development. We are proud to support a major company in the Hospitality arena who do just that. They have a clear plan to recruit 80% of their site managers internally and they see Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4 Apprenticeships as the foundation of that plan. That for me is exactly what the apprenticeship programme should be achieving. Of course, not everyone who starts a programme will end up as a site manager.  But the chance is there to do so and other companies operating large apprenticeship programmes should ask themselves whether they offer similar opportunities.

The news that Functional Skills will now definitely become a mandatory component of all Apprenticeships frameworks from September 2012 fits perfectly with the need to upskill our workforce. Unlike Key Skills, which it replaces, Functional Skills will provide a genuine opportunity for learners to improve their literacy and numeracy skills and just as importantly, apply those skills to new situations which they will face as their career develops. This is exactly what the apprenticeship programme is designed to achieve – helping people to develop their skills and subsequently their careers.

We at Mindleaders Thirdforce are proud to be at the forefront of the Functional Skills revolution, leading the way with our innovative delivery solutions.

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