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  • Writer's pictureGareth John

Urgent apprenticeships reforms needed to help the skills sector

Eastern Powerhouse Member, First Intuition, provide their thoughts on

reforms to the Apprenticeship system

In today's rapidly evolving workforce landscape, with growing skills gaps causing strain on employers and the economy, the need for robust apprenticeship programmes has never been more relevant. However, despite general support for the uptake of apprenticeships from policymakers who continually talk about the critical importance of high-quality apprenticeships and skills to the economy, there is no concrete action to address the factors discouraging apprenticeship uptake and effectiveness. 


In this article Gareth John, Director of accountancy training firm First Intuition and advocate for apprenticeships and skills, identifies key reforms that he would like the Department for Education to address that would encourage apprenticeship uptake and aid the skills sector.


1. Close the significant gap between the amount raised from the Apprenticeship Levy and the amount allocated to the Apprenticeship Budget 

Most people might assume these figures would be similar or the same, but in reality, hundreds of millions a year raised from the Levy are not spent on the skills system that so desperately needs it. 


Our view is that the entire ‘Levy take’ should be used for the purpose it was designed for, supporting the training and development of apprentices. 


2. Increase in funding bands for all apprenticeship standards 

The ongoing review of apprenticeship standards is moving too slowly and is only covering a fraction of the total number of standards being delivered. 


All providers have seen rapid inflation in costs of delivery in the last couple of years and more and more are finding it impossible to cover these costs with funding bands that remain unchanged. 


The number of apprenticeship providers that have discontinued delivery in the last year shows how critical this situation is. 


Given the fact that the salary bills that levy contributions are based on have been inflating why have funding bands not at least increased to cover dramatic delivery cost inflation? 


3. Offer alternative training options at level 2 due to the current ‘12 months and a day’ Gateway rule  

The accountancy sector and others are finding that the requirement for learners to be on-programme for a minimum of a year is proving a big blocker to the adoption of level 2.  


12 months and a day is too long when the level 2 AAT qualification can be completed in 4 to 6 months, and when employers do not want to delay the progress of their strongest trainees.  


This issue is depriving so many young adults of development of critical employability skills and behaviours that they badly need as they enter the workforce for the first time.  


An alternative funded option for employability skills training should therefore be available at level 2 where programmes can be completed in less than a year.  

*This article reflects the views of First Intuition, a private education provider operating in the East of England.


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