The providers chosen to deliver the government’s flagship national technical skills bootcamps have been named.
FE Week can reveal 18 organisations, including 11 independent providers – two of which are owned by education giant City & Guilds – two universities, one council and just four colleges, have won funding in the £18 million tender.
Association of Colleges chief executive David Hughes believes the lack of colleges among the bootcamp providers is due to them “being asked to bid for a lot of pots of funding at the moment and this is stretching resources at a very busy time of the year”.
He said colleges “use other funding pots” to “meet the needs of unemployed adults,” which is what bootcamps are intended for.
Winners (see table for list) were told on Wednesday they had been successful, but they have not yet been told the value of their contracts.
FE Week analysis shows that four of the providers have never been visited by Ofsted, while Intertrain – one of those owned by City & Guilds – has yet to receive a full inspection. Gen2 is the other City & Guilds-owned provider.
Ten of the providers have received a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted, while two are rated ‘outstanding’.
The providers will be delivering 12- to 16-week courses to unemployed and employed adults aged 19 and over in sectors such as digital skills, electrotechnical, nuclear and green energy, at a local or national level.
Although the contracts had been intended to start from the end of March, timed for the roll-out of the National Skills Fund, delays have pushed this to June 4 this year.
The tender is currently in a ten-day “standstill” period, in case any of the unsuccessful applicants to the tender wish to challenge the results.
If no organisation submits a challenge, contracts will be awarded on May 22.
The tender was published in January alongside another lot, also worth £18 million, for digital skills bootcamps in the nine geographical regions of England.
This procurement is still ongoing and the Education and Skills Funding Agency has not disclosed when its results will be shared or announced.
Both lots will last for one year, with the possibility of a one-year extension.
The Department for Education anticipates that at least 75 per cent of all bootcamp trainees will “move into a new job or role within six months of completing training”.
The bootcamps were announced by prime minister Boris Johnson in a speech at Exeter College last September.
He said the bootcamps were a response to the “huge number” of people who are “going to have to change jobs – to change skills – and at the moment, if you’re over 23, the state provides virtually no free training to help you”.
This year’s Skills for Jobs white paper pledged the government to run bootcamps as “a flexible way to gain high-quality skills that are relevant to employers”.
Before this tender came two waves of pilot bootcamps launched last year with £8 million of funding in areas including Derbyshire-Nottinghamshire, the south west and Leeds.
These were inspired by programmes run in Greater Manchester, and the West Midlands Combined Authority’s ‘Beat the Bot’ scheme.
Hughes said he would like to see the bootcamp model “evaluated as soon as possible because if it is effective, then the approach could become part of the mainstream, funded through the adult education budget”.