Announcements on Apprenticeship funding and priorities for providers

On 25th October, the Department for Education (DfE) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) published The final information and guidance on funding, the levy, detailed funding rules, and the register of training apprenticeship providers (RoATP). Here at Pearson we have been busy digesting this latest information and are currently working on a number of summaries of the contents of the announcements. We will be placing this on our Funding Hub, and also updating our Handy Guide to Apprenticeship Reform shortly.

But what should providers be focusing on, amongst a raft of new information?

Many providers have suggested that the recent announcements have clarified many points, indeed, having such information can in part answer many questions from the sector, it is perhaps now time for a greater focus on assessment and delivery, whilst still awaiting clarify of governance and process from the department and its other partner stakeholders. This in part will be driven by the need to be registered on the Register of apprenticeship training providers (RoATP) to enable continued business via DAS (for Levy payers) and through new SFA contracts form May 2017-July 2018 for training provision to non-Levy payers.

We recently attended the AELP Autumn Conference in Manchester. It was great to see so many familiar faces, but also to see firsthand the challenges facing providers following the recent announcements. Providers now have to focus their minds on how they will deliver standards from May 2017 under the new funding rules, make decisions on when is the most appropriate time to transition from frameworks to standards, all the time being mindful of the system changing and how both employers and most importantly Learners will navigate and understand Apprenticeships moving forward.

Funding rules

In summary, the recent announcements covered:

Government and employer contribution for non-levy payers: 90% contribution from government to the cost of training for employers that will not pay the levy.

  • 16-18 year-olds: additional £1,000 paid to employer and £1,000 to provider.
  • Disadvantaged 19-24 year-old care leavers or with an LA EHC plan: additional £1,000 paid to employer and £1,000 to provider.
  • Small employer contribution (< 50): 100% contribution from government to the cost of training for small employers that will not pay the levy and who take on apprentices who are 16-18, 19-24 year old care leavers or with an Education and Health Care Plan (EHC plan).
  • English and maths: Flat rate of £471 for each subject to provider.
  • Prior qualifications: employers can use levy funds /access co-investment to train individuals on apprenticeship at same or lower level than a qualification they already hold, if this allows the individual to acquire substantive new skills and the content of the training is materially different from any prior training or a previous apprenticeship.
  • Transfer of digital funds: A commitment to introducing the ability for employers to transfer digital funds to other employers in their supply chains, sector or to Apprenticeship Training Agencies in 2018, with a new employer group to help government develop this system so that it works for employers.
  • Higher funding bands for some STEM apprenticeship frameworks and apprenticeship standards: the original funding bands set in August 2016 have been increased for some STEM frameworks, and for some standards.
  • 16-18 year-olds on frameworks: additional 20% of funding band maximum will be paid to the provider. This is a transitional measure and will be kept under review and reduced as more apprenticeship starts are on new standards.
  • 19-24 year-old care leavers or with an LA EHC plan on frameworks: additional 20% of funding band maximum will be paid to the provider. This is a transitional measure and will be kept under review and reduced as more apprenticeship starts are on new standards.
  • All disadvantaged learners: additional £600 for those on framework living in top 10% of deprived areas (as per IMD), £300 for those living in next 10%, £200 for those living in next 7%. In place for the first year and will be kept under review to ‘ensure equal opportunity to all, regardless of circumstances’.
  • Longer period of time for employers to spend funds in their digital account: 24 months, up from 18.

Register of apprenticeship training providers (RoATP)

  • Amended guidance on how to apply to the register of apprenticeship training providers has been published, and the new register is now open for business.
  • The new register opened for applications on 25 October 2016. The first selection of assured providers will be drawn from those who complete applications by 5.00pm on 25 November 2016.
  • The SFA is running a procurement exercise for delivery of apprenticeship training to employers that will not use a digital account to pay for apprenticeship training. Organisations interested in applying for this must apply to the RoATP main application route and complete the invitation to tender for the procurement. Both the RoATP application and invitation to tender must be submitted by 5.00pm on 25 November 2016, and for those successful in the procurement, contracts will begin on 1 May 2017 and end on 31 July 2018.

Further support

We have produced a guide to support providers in reviewing the differences between funding for Frameworks and Standards from May 2017, this can be found here. Rate comparison will, during this transition period become increasingly important for providers who need to shift and change their business models to a provider working with both Levy and Non-Levy employers moving forward. Of course, some may wish to take a somewhat cavalier attitude and transit to standards sooner rather than later, others, we suspect will wish to be more cautious.

What has become clear is that we all have a role to play in working together to navigate the new world of Apprenticeships. Pearson continues to be here to support you. We will be running further Insight Webinars shortly to discuss the changes and ongoing reform in even more detail, look out for further details on our website.