Fears are growing for the future of a popular management apprenticeship as the government deliberates on whether to slash its funding by a third.
The level four associate project management standard is in line to have its funding rates cut from £9,000 a year to £6,000, according to the Association for Project Management (APM) which is campaigning to stop the reduction.
The standard had 180 starts in 2016/17, but provisional figures suggest this number rose to 2,005 starts in 2017/18.
The proposed cut is part of the Institute for Apprenticeships’ funding band review, which began in May and covers 31 standards. A spokesperson for the IfA confirmed the government was deciding on the final funding for the associate project management standard, but would not confirm if it had proposed the £3,000 cut.
APM has warned that such a drastic fall in funding would render delivering the standard “a virtual impossibility” and has today written to skills minister Anne Milton urging her to reject the proposed cuts. It said initial estimates from employers suggest starts on the standard are set to rise to at least 2,600 next year if funding is not reduced.
APM, the chartered body for the project profession, said it has received backing from several high profile corporations in its campaign to save the standard, including BT, British Airways, Royal Mail, Savilles and awarding organisation NCFE.
Debbie Dore, chief executive of APM, said the proposed cut “would render it financially non-viable for providers to continue to run high quality apprenticeship programmes.
“Ultimately this will result in a reduction of the talent pipeline and a very real impact on the UK Economy, which is heavily reliant on the project profession for success.”
APM said it has consulted with employers who make up over 50 per cent of all project management delivery, and the evidence suggests businesses “will simply not be willing to enrol apprenticeships onto lower quality programmes and will be unable to afford to stump up the 33 per cent shortfall themselves”.
A spokesperson for the IfA said: “The recommended reviewed funding band for the level four associate project manager standard is with the secretary of state for consideration, and we cannot comment further at this time.”
In October the final funding bands for 12 of the standards under review were signed off. Of these, seven had their funding cut, two saw an increase and three standards remained the same.
However, a decision has not yet been made about the fate of three of the most popular management standards after the employer group behind them launched an appeal against proposed cuts.
The level five operations/departmental manager standard, which made up two thirds of all level three standards last year, was set to drop from £9,000 to £7,000, while the level three team leader/supervisor standard, which accounted for a fifth of all level three starts, faced a cut from £5,000 to £4,500. The level six chartered manager degree apprenticeship could also see its funding cap cut from £27,000 to £22,000.
The outcome of the appeal is still pending.
The IfA said the outcomes of the remaining 19 standards in the funding band review would be published in “due course”.
FE Week revealed last week that the proportion of learners taking management apprenticeships has doubled in the last two years, with just 10 management standards now making up a fifth of all apprenticeship starts on standards.