The way apprenticeship funding levels are set will be overhauled following complaints from employers. The new chief executive at the organisation tasked with the job has launched a consultation and wants your help designing a ‘more transparent approach’

I am pleased to be able to announce the launch today [24 February] of the Institute’s consultation on a new approach for setting public funding levels for apprenticeships.

We make recommendations to the secretary of state on what the maximum funding level should be to pay for off-the-job training and assessment.

We want to hear from employers, apprentices, providers, awarding organisations and everyone else involved

We are acting on feedback from employers that our existing system, which is based on quotes gathered from providers on what price they could deliver training and end point assessment for and comparisons with relevant apprenticeships and training, needed to be looked at again.

The common complaint was that they found it difficult to understand how we reach our funding recommendations and wanted a more transparent approach.  

The institute started to tackle this before I started as chief executive last November.

In May last year the funding team launched a set of improvements to help employers on our trailblazer groups, who develop new apprenticeships, better understand how we reach funding decisions and they can better influence them. This included providing more information about funding levels for comparable apprenticeships earlier in the development process, improved guidance, forms and feedback letters, and the launch of intensive workshops to make sure everyone is up to speed with how the system worked.

But that was only the first step. We have been working hard since then on plans for more widespread reform.

We commissioned a report by IFF Research into the actual costs of delivering apprenticeships. We have used this information to develop a more transparent model, drawing on average delivery costs.

I want us to build on our improved understanding of the costs, and I think now is the right time to get the support of as many people who care about apprenticeships to help develop the model further and make sure it works better for everyone.

We want to hear from employers, apprentices, providers, awarding organisations and everyone else involved with apprenticeships, including their representative groups.

The report has given us a much better idea of the average overall costs of delivering apprenticeships, for example with teaching and what needs to be paid-out on administration.

An important consideration we now need to gather views on is how much detailed information we should gather from trailblazers on the costs of each apprenticeship.

How much information is truly beneficial and at what point does it become too much of a burden to the employers providing the data.

It is a question of striking the right balance between simplicity and a system that can respond to the different cost requirements of different apprenticeships.

End point assessment costs are still rapidly evolving, and the research was unable to return enough solid data to generate average rates that could inspire the required level of confidence to use in our new model.

We will therefore continue to request quotes from end point assessment organisations (EPAOs) in the short term. However, EPAOs have engaged really positively with us over the past few months on developing an evidence base which in the longer term could be used to develop reliable average rates for different assessment methods, and we’re very grateful for their input. 

This consultation is just one part of the Institute’s plans to work closely with all those impacted by our funding band recommendation process. We want to create a simple, transparent system which works for all and provides value for money for the employer and the taxpayer.

Now is the right time to share the model we’ve developed and get your thoughts, to help us make it work for you.

Your support in designing, refining and testing it out will be hugely welcomed. If you need any information to help you respond to the consultation or want to discuss any aspect further, please contact the dedicated consultation email address and our team will be happy to help.

Responses to the consultation need to be submitted by 6 April.