BIS to 'sweep away' apprenticeship red tape for employers

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced a package of new measures today that will cut data returns and audit requirements for apprenticeship delivery, despite fraud and the misuse of funding reaching ‘a record high’ (Click here to read the BIS press release).

(Click here to read FE Week’s coverage on the increase in fraud)

Skills Minister John Hayes plans to introduce a “payment by outcomes” approach to apprenticeship funding that will eliminate in-year changes to contract values, a number of data returns and reduce audit requirements needed from employers.

Mr Hayes said: “Where red tape and bureaucracy deters employers from taking on apprentices, we’ll sweep it away.

“That will give more firms access to the skills they need to thrive, creating new jobs and new growth”.

The package also follows a statement published by the National Apprenticeship Survey (NAS) and Skills Funding Agency last week, who expressed their concerns about the rapid surge of apprenticeships and the quality of training being provided.

(Click here to read FE Week’s coverage on the NAS concerns about quality)

Business Secretary Vince Cable added: “For far too long, too many businesses have been put off by overly complex procedures and unnecessary layers of paperwork.

Where red tape and bureaucracy deters employers from taking on apprentices, we’ll sweep it away.”

“We’ve worked with business to cut bureaucracy and ensure the benefits for employers, learners and the economy are maximised.”

The new “payment by outcomes” scheme will be piloted by 20 large employers who hope to benefit from simplified payment, reporting and assessment requirements.

The announcement follows a review led by the Employer Reference Group at the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS), which consulted with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and large companies such as BT and TUI Travel.

BT Director of Education and Skills Andy Palmer said: “The changes we are proposing will have a significant impact on bureaucracy rather than merely tinkering at the edges.”

Other aspects of the new plan include streamlining contracting arrangements and the certification process.

Further measures aimed at both small and medium sized employers taking on apprentices will be unveiled in Autumn 2011.