‘Mandatory training’ for untested apprenticeship providers on register

'Mandatory training' for untested apprenticeship providers on register

New providers with little or no track record will have to undergo “mandatory training” before they can deliver apprenticeships, the Skills Funding Agency has said.

The plans are part of a “new approach to thematic auditing and other risk based assessments and behavioural monitoring” announced by the agency’s director of funding and programmes Keith Smith at the Annual Apprenticeships Conference.

The approach, which aims to give both the SFA and employers “confidence” in the new system, could see providers lose their place on the register if they don’t pass muster.

Providers will have to be listed on the new register of apprenticeship training providers in order to deliver new apprenticeship starts from May.

The SFA’s proclamation follows an FE Week investigation which found a number of companies which had never delivered apprenticeships before were on new register, which was published earlier in March.

“Any new provider will be required to attend mandatory training,” said Mr Smith. “That’s going to happen before any apprenticeship activity starts.” This training would cover “the important points around what it takes to be in this new system”, he said.

The new providers would all then “be case-loaded with an account manager in the agency” for “one-to-one sessions”.

He continued: “Then I expect, no later than three to six months in, that potentially when they start delivering is when we will then start to take that snapshot. “It’s going to be a potentially a pass or fail judgement.”

In “the most serious of cases”, for instance if new providers are “taking too long to get up to speed”, he insisted the SFA “will take action immediately”.

“Now depending on what we see, and what we find from that first formal assessment will determine whether we do follow ups, will determine whether actually everything’s fantastic, and they can then default to our normal compliance regime for other types of providers,” he continued.

He insisted he is “really ambitious to make sure we don’t have too long a lag before we identify where things potentially are going wrong”, stressing: “It’s important that we have confidence, that employers have confidence, that where new entrants are coming to the market they are getting up to speed as quickly as possible.”

Delegates should “expect to hear something more from us on this quite soon”, he added, involving “quite a rigorous process, which potentially in the worst cases is going to lead to these new providers being removed from the register”.

The application process is due to take place four times every year, and sector figures expect this number will rise quickly, perhaps to well over 2,000.

“It is a huge challenge and we are only at the start of the conversations because there is nothing yet to inspect,” Ms Spielman has previously said. “This is about setting up He concluded: “And as I’ve also said many many times, our ambitions don’t stop there.

“We have a lot of work planned to try to look at how we continue to raise the bar and to continue to stretch the system to deliver those high standards. We do that for one reason – the apprentice deserves it.”