The Employer Ownership of Skills pilot will not launch in August as planned, according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

Applicants were supposed to be contacted by the Commission in June and July, with the delivery of successful bids starting in August.

However, a UKCES spokesperson told FE Week they were still waiting for Ministers to give a final sign off on the projects.

“Following this we will issue the outcome letters to bidders,” the spokesperson said.

“Projects can start as soon as the due diligence and grant letter negotiation is complete.”

The UKCES spokesperson added that they expected the sign off to be given by Ministers “very soon”.

The first round of the pilot, worth £50 million, will pay for projects which deliver skills development and vocational training, such as apprenticeships, from August to the end of July 2014.

Trudi Stevens, owner of Green Lantern Training, told FE Week she knew there was “a good chance” the launch of the pilot would be delayed.

She said: “The greater issue, and one that requires delicate handling, is managing the expectations of the employers who will be involved.

“We have been honest about the potential changes in timings.

“Knowing that the programme would probably slip (and anticipating that even some of the ground rules might change) we have had to be careful about what commitments we make to them, and what commitments we expect from them up front.

“There is enough cynicism and misinformation out there without adding to it by making promises we know we probably can’t keep due to last minute changes.”