Urgent challenges facing the skills sector

First Intuition recently met with Vicky Ford, Member of Parliament for Chelmsford, to discuss the growing concerns about the issues facing the skills system ahead of the writing of government manifestos.

Urgent challenges facing the skills sector

Urgent challenges facing the skills sector

First Intuition recently met with Vicky Ford, Member of Parliament for Chelmsford, to discuss the growing concerns about the issues facing the skills system ahead of the writing of government manifestos.

Vicky Ford, Member of Parliament for Chelmsford, recently met with First Intuition to listen to the growing concerns about the issues facing the skills system in Essex and nationally.

This meeting reinforced the importance of speaking to MPs about issues affecting local people and businesses, particularly ahead of the creation of manifestos, so they can be considered and change enforced.

Three of the key concerns First Intuition raised that Vicky will take to the Ministerial team in the Department for Education include:

1. The need to 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. The urgent need for an increase in funding bands for all apprenticeship standards

The ongoing review of around 60 standards is moving too slowly and is only 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 few months shows how critical this situation is.

Given the fact that the salary bills that levy contributions are based on have been inflating why haven’t funding bands at least increased each year to cover this cost inflation?

3. The need to review the appropriateness of the current ‘12 months and a day’ Gateway rule at level 2

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 don’t want to delay the progress of their strongest trainees.

Why are apprentices being disadvantaged in this way compared to non-apprentice 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.

Seeing recent figures showing a 16.5% decrease in level 2 starts since the previous year highlight to me the need to review this as a matter of urgency.

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