IfA in talks with charity to take on EQA role after People 1st goes bust

The Institute for Apprenticeships is understood to be close to reaching a deal with an organisation to take over the now-defunct People 1st’s external quality assurance role.

The Workforce Development Trust, which includes Skills for Health and Skills for Justice, is reported to be close to taking on the role following the collapse of the employment and learning consultancy charity this week.

People 1st’s demise, confirmed on Thursday morning, sent shockwaves across the sector.

It was one of five EQA providers approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships, and covered ten popular standards in the retail, hospitality and travel sectors.

FE Week understands that IfA staff are supporting an application from the Workforce Development Trust to take over these EQA responsibilities.

That application needs to be ratified by the IfA’s quality assurance committee, and an official announcement is understood to be expected on Monday.

The Workforce Development Trust is made up of Skills for Health, Skills for Justice, the National Skills Academy for Health and SFJ Awards, an awarding body.

Skills for Health was originally the sector skills council for the health sector, while Skills for Justice was the sector skills council for the justice sector. The two merged in 2015, and have been involved in developing apprenticeship standards for their sectors.

FE Week has contacted the trust to confirm these reports, but has yet to receive a response.

However, a spokesperson for the IfA denied that it was in discussions with any other organisation.

“We are working with People 1st to put measures in place to ensure that there is continuous provision of EQA for all apprenticeship standards where employers have selected People 1st as their chosen provider,” she said.

People 1st was once the employer-led sector skills council for hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism in the UK, responsible for developing and managing apprenticeship standards.

Comments made to FE Week in February 2017 indicated high hopes that plans to manage external quality-assurance for apprenticeship end-point assessment in the retail, hospitality and travel industries would help the body survive financially.

“The retail, hospitality and travel industries have elected to use an employer process for external quality-assurance of apprenticeship end-point assessment,” a spokesperson said at the time.

“The cost of external-quality assurance is currently being finalised, but we have advised organisations that are on, or aspiring to be on, the register of apprenticeship assessment organisations, that we do not envisage the price exceeding £40 per apprentice at end-point assessment.”