Functional Skills funded for 38 per cent less

Providers delivering in the workplace will receive almost 40 per cent less funding when they are forced to switch from Adult Basic Skills (ABS) Certificates to Functional Skills qualifications in August.

The current version of the Learning Aim Reference Application (LARA) shows that while providers receive £505 for each ABS qualification they deliver, under Functional Skills they will receive only £314 (see table).

Trudi Stevens, owner of Green Lantern Training Company said: “Take 20 per cent off for the prime’s cut (and it) leaves me £240 to deliver it.

“Remove £50 for registration and certification, £10 for training materials and 20 per cent for overheads – I’m left (with) £132 to deliver what will be at least 20 hours teaching, which works out at £6.60 an hour.

“I could get more stacking shelves in my local Aldi.”

NIACE is particularly concerned because of the challenging nature of the assessment of Functional Skills and the increased costs of supporting learners to successful achievement.”

Further concerns have been voiced on the “Apprenticeships England” LinkedIn group.

Rachel Squires, a work-based learning co-ordinator at Bicton College said: “With the pressures on training providers to complete, achieve and fund I can unfortunately see the focus being removed from the young person and their career opportunities.

“Functional Skills is becoming the final barrier that is proving just too much for many to get over. So many work-based learners who have a real and positive role to play in the workplace, have drive, enthusiasm and practical skills, yet can’t get through level 1 Functional Skills will be dropped as the resources are not there to get them through.”

The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) say they are also worried about the decision.

Carol Taylor, director of development and research at NIACE said: “If, according to these figures that the funding available for the delivery of functional skills in the workplace (especially for level 1 and 2) is no greater than that which is currently available for literacy and numeracy that would be a cause for concern.  NIACE is particularly concerned because of the challenging nature of the assessment of Functional Skills and the increased costs of supporting learners to successful achievement.”

A spokesman for the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) said: “We are heavily engaged in discussions about trying to ensure that Functional Skills funding more properly reflects costs of delivery.”

The funding rate for functional skills was added to the LARA on March 24 as part of the Employer Responsive (ER) Other provision.

“The funding rate for Functional Skills has been set at 0.12 Standard SLNs,” the SFA website reads.

“The funding value has been set based on the recommendation of the Funding

External Technical Advisory Group that advises the Agency on funding rates and is based on the average time taken to deliver Functional Skills in ALR.”

ABS qualifications in numeracy and literacy at level 1 and 2 will cease to be funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) from August.

However, it is understood that entry level ABS Certificates will continue to be funded into 2013.