learndirect Policy Exchange Session – July 2016

Last week around 50 learning professionals braved the hotest day of the year and a room with no air con to listen to an update on apprenticeships, mostly from Sue Husband from the Department of Education (recently moved over from BIS).

The overwhelming message was really “we’re not quite there yet, there will be more soon” – the latest raft of levy information unsurprisingly being held up by the changes resulting from the referendum result.  Therefore, I wont include everything from the day here as a lot was what we already knew.

There were positives though – rough notes below [with some of my comments included]:

  • There is clearly a belief that it will work (although the CBI is still pushing for a delay/rethink).  [Hence the apparent lack of contingency planning.]
  • Focus is on apprenticeship quality [although you suspect that will be under challenge from the ‘claim back’ employers – no doubt a test for the new Institute for Apprenticeships].
  • NI contributions abolished for under 25 apprentices.
  • 2.3% of workforce target now in place for government to encourage them to support the policy.  Recommended that people look up the 5% Club.
  • Post code of person will be determining factor on which pot money goes to – so good for English people working in Scotland/Wales, not so much the other way around [so employers may be forced into decisions that go against equal opportunities].
  • Funds will expire after 18 months – system is clever enough to know how ‘old’ a pound is and move into general pot at correct time.
  • Levy online tool is available for people to pilot [still awaiting my access after requesting last week following the event].  April 2017 will only be available to levy payers – smaller orgs later [makes sense and should help with stability].
  • Pooling funds and granting to supply chain are on road-map [potentially] but issues with potential for misuse of funds [payments for favours, etc].
  • They expect employers running own apprenticeships to grow [good that not just about supporting a market for the FE and skills sector].
  • The current advertising [which is all over my train route in South London at least] is young person orientated – the next raft will highlight that it is about all ages and current employees too.
  • Graduations now underway for people coming through apprenticeships designed to new standards [presumably a good thing but no doubt some questions over quality versus the old frameworks in some areas].
  • Acknowledged higher qualification [degree] cap does not make sense, as funding going from government to employers now looking at it from different perspective. More in next publications. [Might be a real game changer if this removes the blocker on graduates training into a career via an apprenticeship].
  • About half of all standards in development are at degree level [watch out HE!].
  • ‘Use levy wisely’ was the response to the question from the room about why the levy is being forced on those who already do good people development.  [Guess the challenge might be that the room was clearly people engaged with the agenda – no doubt the % of employers who currently under invest in L&D will be the more vocal in complaining about the levy].  20,ooo firms will be paying in; 5,000 of those will be new to apprenticeships.
  • Definitely don’t have to have ‘apprentice’ or similar in your job title [but good for your apprenticeship brand if people realise that is what they are doing – plus they do have to know they are an apprentice as part of the rules].
  • 20% off work can be blended, do not think about as 20% in classroom.  They recognise that continuous learning makes the best programmes [yay!].
  • Will be information coming for employers looking to do some of the training and back charging to provider.
  • Brexit may be good for apprenticeships [if cuts on immigration].
  • May encourage permanent employment [this is me extrapolating from the amount of people in the room unhappy that their temporary staff will be included in the levy tax but not in those who can be apprentices – presumably also the likes of SportDirect wont be happy with that one].
  • Digital Apprenticeship Service screenshots [It’s Alive!!  Will comment more on this when I get access].

Author: iangardnergb

My name is Ian Gardner and I am interested in various topics that can be seen as related to learning, technology and information. To see what I am reading elsewhere, follow me on The Old Reader (I.gardner.gb) and/or Twitter (@iangardnergb).

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