City & Guilds allocated more than £8m for 25,000 Asda apprentices

The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) has allocated more than £8m to City & Guilds in order to deliver 25,000 apprenticeships at Asda.

The funding will be used to train employees from May 2011 to July 2012, comprising of £736,824 until the end of July 2011 with a further £7.7m between August 2011 and the end of July 2012.

A spokesperson from the SFA said: “The Skills Funding Agency is contracted with City & Guilds for Business, a wholly owned subsidiary of the awarding body City & Guilds.”

As previously reported in FE Week, this new allocation is similar to the contract between Elmfield Training and Morrisons (click here).

The Morrisons partnership has already created more than 20,000 Level 2 Retail apprenticeships starts, specifically for those aged 25 and over.

FE Week understands Asda is not paying City & Guilds any money for the scheme, but is instead investing “time awarded to colleagues in store.”

John Hayes, Minister for FE, recently announced the government has smashed their apprenticeship recruitment target for the financial year ending March 2011.

Asda said they will create 6,000 apprentices by the end of this year and 25,000 by the end of 2012 under the Asda Skills Academy.

The supermarket chain has been offering employees Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4 qualifications from June 6.

Sarah Dickins, people operations and policy director at Asda, said: “This is something that our colleagues have been asking for. Getting that qualification is really important to them, as it builds up their education as well as improving their skills in the workplace.”

The training is being provided by City & Guilds for Business, a City & Guilds approved Centre which has worked in the past with companies such as Tesco, McDonalds and British Airways.

Lisa Burnett, People Development Manager at Asda plc said: “City & Guilds is well known in Asda so our pilot training scheme gained instant credibility.”

Simon Witts, Director of City & Guilds for Business added: “The Asda Skills Academy is an exciting expansion of our existing relationship and offers us a new model for working with employers in future.

“It also puts us well on the way to achieving Million Extra – our commitment to help create one million new apprenticeships by the summer of 2013.”

The SFA hopes that their additional investment in apprenticeships will support learners aged between 19 and 24, rather than older or existing employees.

An update posted in August on the SFA website reads: “We would hope that employers and providers do not move this extra resource into significantly expanding their Intermediate Apprenticeships (Level 2) for 25-year-olds and over.”

City & Guilds is not the first awarding body to take on the role of both training and certification.

An Ofqual spokesperson said: “In circumstances where the awarding organisation is also acting as training provider, they will be required to have in place arrangements to manage any possible conflicts of interest. Breaches of the conditions can result in regulatory action.”

Asda spokeswoman Tori Pourzand added: “The priority for us is the quality of learning for the individual, not the speed of it; however, we anticipate colleagues will complete the programme between 9 and 12 months.”

Existing employees are currently being signed up to the scheme, and new employees can join after completing a 12 week training programme.