Framework deadline for AOs ‘false’ says AELP chief Segal

Awarding organisations (AOs) should have had more time to submit new apprenticeship frameworks, Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) chief executive Stewart Segal has claimed.

He accused the government of imposing a “false deadline” for AOs to submit new apprenticeship frameworks to the Learning Aim Reference Service (Lars) online course catalogue, leading to “risks” for providers.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills told AOs before the summer that they would not be able to submit updated apprenticeship frameworks after September 1.

But the number of AOs submitting their information in the run-up to the deadline, FE Week understands, has led to a backlog of frameworks to be uploaded onto the Learning Aim Reference Service (Lars) by the Skills Funding Agency.

Mr Segal said: “I know the agency will say this deadline has been known about for a long time, but in the normal course of things there wouldn’t have been a deadline, so if awarding organisations run into issues or came across unexpected complexities, they would have been able to take more time. It’s just a completely false deadline.”

He added that AOs needed “at least three months” to adjust their frameworks.

Mr Segal said the delay had meant providers could struggle to choose which courses to offer and understand what funding was available before their funding claims were due to be returned on October 4.

“Providers need the information on Lars to get their claims in and clearly they need to understand all the funding issues,” he said.

“The tight timescale means providers take on all of the risk — those looking to expand and deliver programmes can’t make any promises on what they’re going to deliver if they don’t know what funding they’ll
be getting.”

He said getting submissions in for RO2 would be “tough”.

He added: “I think any issues can be resolved but we need to make sure their submissions.”

An agency spokesperson said: “This month’s update to Lars is complete and includes the recently-changed apprenticeship frameworks.

“The agency has processed the significant number of changes to apprenticeship frameworks we received from the framework issuing authorities within normal timescales.”