The Future of Apprenticeships

The last few months has seen almost unprecedented change in a sector that is very used to change.

Our challenge as GTAs is as always to ensure we fully understand the changes and their impact, so we can continue to provide an outstanding service to our employers and learners. We continue to passionately believe the ‘GTA way’ is the right one to enable us to do this, and were delighted this was recognised by Ofsted in last month’s apprenticeship report where they reported that “Group Training Associations (GTAs) provide a very successful model for collaboration between employers and providers. This has become a model of industry/provider partnership resilient to policy changes and has responded very effectively to the training demands of industry. Training companies that are members of GTA England generally provide high-quality training”.

The government has this month published a new document to help us achieve this aim. The 24-page report ‘English Apprenticeships: Our 2020 Vision’ full version with key milestones for employers, providers and the government itself, and a useful Apprenticeships 2020 summary are available through these links.

Within this report the government has laid out its timeline for implementing apprenticeship reforms over the next five years as it chases its target of 3m starts (thanks to colleagues at FE week for the links above). This contains some of the key areas and actions planned and dates which are detailed within the document.

A whole host of activities are covered in this important strategic document so we thought following this year of change it would be useful to highlight three areas of particular significance which the GTA England Board have identified as strategically significant and our proposed actions in response:

Through the Apprenticeship Levy ‘employers will choose and pay for the apprenticeship training and assessment they want through the Digital Apprenticeship Service. All employers will have access to the Digital Apprenticeship Service whether they have contributed to the levy or not. We want to give employers in England flexibility on how they use their levy contributions, without introducing additional and unintended complexity into the system. On that basis we will continue to engage with employers in England between now and the implementation of the levy to understand better what this might look like in practice and the pros and cons of any approach before deciding on how to proceed.’

ACTION:

  • We continue to work with colleagues in BIS / SFA with this important development. BIS confirm their intention to work with the GTA England network to help develop Apprenticeship Levy policy and the Digital Apprenticeship Service. I have meetings scheduled in early 2016 for an update on progress.
  • The Employer Advisory Group, newly established in early 2016, will form an excellent basis for consultation on the e-voucher and matters around the Levy.
  • We will establish a GTA levy implementation workshop which will bring together GTAs to find solutions to common issues arising from levy implementation. The benefits of this will be synergies, reduced development time, shared ideas and resources in order to be at the forefront of working with employers to support in accessing any Levy arrangements.

The development of the new Institute of Apprenticeships body from April 2017 and how it will contribute to the governance of the programme including managing expressions of interest, apprenticeships standards and assessment plans and funding recommendations.

ACTION:

  • We will continue to offer support to BIS and help in the development of the Institute of Apprenticeships to ensure the networks 24,000 employers have a say in emerging arrangements.

Updated guidance on the post-16 education area reviews is expected from February.

ACTION:

  • We will continue to represent GTAs on the national area review advisory group to ensure an opportunity for full participation is available to those GTAs wishing to participate.
  • We will continue to support BIS in shaping their thinking on Institutes of Technology, building on and enhancing the best practice in existence in the GTA England network.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful and restful Christmas ready for the exciting opportunities in 2016.

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