Delivering Apprenticeships as an Employer-Provider: What you Need to Consider
If your business is investing in apprenticeships you’ve probably considered the different routes you can take to deliver these effectively. Some employers choose a single external training provider to manage and deliver their apprenticeship programme in its entirety. Others choose to work with multiple providers, each with different specialisms.
There’s another route that some employers are choosing to take: they can apply for employer-provider status and deliver their own apprenticeship training. This is certainly an attractive option for those who want the flexibility to lead their own programme and potentially lower training costs. Employers who go down this route can ensure that training delivered by their own staff adheres to company values and ethos, with business priorities in mind.
But most would agree that becoming an employer-provider is not without challenges - and certainly isn’t the right choice for everybody. Here are some of the things you’ll want to consider before deciding if it’s right for you:
Applying for employer-provider status
Firstly, you’ll need to apply to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to be included on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) as an employer-provider. This will involve due diligence checks on your organisation and directors, a financial audit, and an assessment of your capability to deliver apprenticeship training to the expected standard. You’ll need to re-apply to maintain your employer-provider status every twelve months.
As an employer training provider, you’ll also need to understand your responsibilities towards your learners. You’ll manage the design and delivery of your apprenticeship training programmes, which includes the requirement that 20% of the employee’s time is spent training outside their job role. This is referred to as ‘off-the-job training’. You’ll need to be diligent about record keeping, gathering evidence of training provided and adhering to reporting procedures.
English and maths are also high on the agenda for apprenticeships. You’ll be responsible for ensuring your apprentices make sufficient progress towards achieving a level 2 in English and maths, regardless of the level of apprenticeship undertaken.
Funding rules change each year, so you’ll need to keep your knowledge up-to-date to ensure you claim the correct costs from your digital apprenticeship service account. You’ll need to understand the funding bands for different apprenticeship programmes as well as eligibility criteria for apprentices.
You’ll be responsible for reporting the full cost of training and assessment to the ESFA and evidencing how these costs are calculated. The ESFA can reduce funding from your apprenticeship service account if does not consider that the training provided represents good value for money. It can also take action to recover funds if there’s been a breach of the funding rules – so you’ll have to be sure you’re only claiming eligible costs (up to the funding band maximum).
All apprenticeship training providers come under scrutiny from education watchdog Ofsted. Ofsted can conduct graded inspections with just two days’ notice, so you’ll need to feel confident that you can maintain the quality of your provision. A poor inspection outcome – published in the public domain – could have a negative impact on organisational credibility and brand reputation.
End-point assessments are one of the biggest changes introduced under the recent apprenticeship reforms. Instead of being continually assessed throughout their programme, learners now have to complete an end-point assessment to test whether they’ve gained the skills, knowledge and behaviours outlined in the apprenticeship standard. As an employer- provider you’ll need to ensure they’re adequately prepared for the content and various testing methods (e.g. multiple-choice questions, practical observations, professional discussions).
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to setting up a successful apprenticeship programme, and while the employer-provider route will be the right choice for some there’s certainly a lot to consider before deciding whether it’s the right approach for your business.
Seetec works with employers across England to help them make the most of their apprenticeship investment. For more information – or to speak to a consultant – contact us today.