Hot Topic: An Overview of the Apprenticeship Reforms
Since the Apprenticeship sector review was published on the 27th November 2012 the long awaited changes to our skills industry are finally upon us, with the Apprenticeship Levy being the most commonly known element. The national business tax aimed to stimulate an increased skills budget whilst giving control to Apprenticeship employers over its use.
Jump forward 4 years and the second half of 2016 has certainly seen many of these policy recommendations start to become real as Private Providers, FE Colleges and HE institutes adjust their propositions, infrastructure and curriculum in anticipation.
Of course, whilst we have plenty of intelligence to inform our change and growth strategies it was inevitable that a number of policy items would face challenges and require constant review and improvement.
- The subject of End Point Assessment for a good number of Apprenticeship standards is a sore point with providers having to take a leap of faith during the piloting phase.
- The distribution of funds through businesses supply chains we are advised must wait until 2018 leaving companies with certain business models feeling they have been disproportionately penalised as a Levy payer
Whilst there are some on-going queries and challenges, we all know enough now and it is time to turn policy into practice. We know the value of the levy employers must contribute, the payment mechanism, the individual funding band values and The Digital Apprenticeship Service is about to be published for use.
Imagine being an employer during these times, particularly a Learning & Development stakeholder. These are exciting times and their new model is how apprenticeships should be offered. The rationale for the reforms in our industry is for this very purpose, to allow businesses to create, design and in some cases deliver the solution they most require. Apprenticeship providers who succeed through these changes will be those who consult with businesses, understand their vision and provide a responsive offering. Apprenticeship Standards allow for the flexibility to do this.
The scope for innovative delivery within businesses is extremely appealing to both apprenticeship employers and those providing delivery. It is known there is a relaxation around prior attainment opens up many more potential apprentice learners who would have been denied access during the previous regime.
National, market leading providers like Seetec have a duty to be industry sector pioneers through delivery of new standards, identification of new standards and true innovation. Seetec, in particular, has been working with a number of significant large organisations to design delivery for new standards and take those industries with Standard development through the Trailblazer process, becoming thought leaders in their chosen fields.
Apprenticeship employers expectation will, of course, be significantly heightened given that there is full transparency of spending value, and rightly so. To protect the reputation of our industry and the Apprenticeship brand, those delivering must adopt a firm stance to keep delivery at its highest quality and at a pricing point that allows for sustainability, rather than the feared race to the lower end of funding bands.
For those apprenticeship providers aiming to succeed through industry reform, in particular for Levy paying employers, they will need to be able to provide an offering that is much greater than Outstanding training delivery. Employer requirements are at the core of the Reforms and Seetec anticipate a large business will require several or all of the following solutions;
- Ability to provide an intelligent tool for managing large scale programmes
- Centre locations and sophisticated e-learning environments for flexible classroom delivery
- True national reach including an offering in surrounding nations
- Track record of supply and management of large scale recruitment solutions
- A suite of sound and well recognised quality assurance credentials