All providers on the government’s register of apprenticeship training providers (RoATP) will need to reapply yet again over the course of the next year as plans for another “refresh” are unveiled.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency published further details today about the next phase of register which has been closed to new applicants since April 2020.

The agency says it has a “new set of application criteria” that every provider will be required to meet. This means each provider already on the register will need to reapply from May 2021 through a “phased reapplication process”.

It has been barely two years since the ESFA’s last refresh which required reapplications from providers as they agency sought to “strengthen” it.

The ESFA also announced today that providers currently on the register that have not delivered training over the most recent six months will be considered for removal, starting from May 2021.

As announced last April, any levy-paying employers delivering services critical to the Covid-19 response are currently able to apply to the register if they are able to provide the apprenticeship training their organisation needs, via the ‘employer’ application route.

The agency said today that it is now extending this so employer providers can apply through both the ‘main’ and ‘supporting’ routes to the register also. This will take effect from 1 March 2021.

But any providers who have been successful through this exceptions policy since its inception in April 2020 will still be subject to the refresh planned from May.

The agency is also widening the “current set of targeted entry conditions” to the register to allow more training providers to enter “through the additional ‘main’ or ‘supporting’ routes, where applicants can demonstrate they are catering to critical workers and have a linked employer’s endorsement”.

The new guidance adds providers with a grade four Ofsted rating will be temporarily eligible to reapply to the apprenticeships register with a re-inspection monitoring visit outcome showing that either ‘reasonable’ or ‘significant’ progress has been made.

It reads: “Covid-19 has caused significant delays to Ofsted’s ability to undertake full inspections. Providers that were previously graded ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted but are overdue a full re-inspection, which has been delayed because of Covid-19, will be temporarily eligible to reapply to the register of apprenticeship training providers with a re-inspection monitoring visit outcome showing that either ‘reasonable’ or ‘significant’ progress has been made.

“Any eligible providers will be able to apply in line with the widening of the register’s entry conditions effective from 1 March 2021, as detailed above. This exception is temporary while inspection activity is limited due to Covid-19 and we will provide an update when this arrangement will cease to apply and Ofsted returns to conducting full inspections.”

Last month’s FE white paper revealed that the government would undertake a “full refresh” of the register, commencing in April 2021 and will adopt “more stringent entry criteria for both new and existing providers, to better determine whether providers have the capability and capacity to be able to deliver these higher-quality apprenticeships”.

This will be the second time the register has been “refreshed”, after it was first launched in March 2017, relaunched in January 2019, only to be closed to most new applications since April 2020.

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  1. Let’s have a Thursday conspiracy theory!

    Every apprenticeship programme demands a 20% time in training.
    That equates to one day in five.
    Colleges are open five days a week (current lockdown rules notwithstanding).
    All current providers have now to apply to re-join ROATP.
    Independent training providers have lost apprentices to redundancy.
    ROATP judges ITPs on starts and completions.
    ITPs are removed from ROATP en bloc on the basis of lack of starts and completions, and financial instability.
    Colleges become the sole locations for apprenticeship delivery.
    The workbased learning system reverts to the 1960s model.
    ESFA control all costs, Ofsted control all inspections at campus locations.

    Job done………

    • That’s the trouble with conspiracy theories, they tend to present one side and ignore the other (exactly the same behaviour as what they are calling a conspiracy!).

      ITPs have lost apprentices through redundancy… (so have Colleges and others).
      RoATP makes the same judgement on providers regardless of type.
      Financial instability… Ain’t just ITPs in trouble.

      ESFA controls all costs etc etc – Why would they want that? everyone knows that the cost base of Colleges is much higher than ITPs (higher teaching and pension costs, plus some eye watering senior staff salaries after mimicking the Uni sector…)

      If you really want something to consider, how about why the vast vast majority of people choose to focus on any possible issue (Brexit, COVID, RoATP etc) and ignore the biggest issue of all, the environment. Keep ignoring that and all the other problems go away (but not in a nice way).

  2. Phillip Griffin

    If only the DfE would use its collective brainpower and look to Einstein for guidance instead of constant navel-gazing – “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

    If the desired outcome for Apprentices and their Employers is better results or ‘quality’ then DfE have all the levers in place to set those standards. If they don’t like subcontracting then outlaw it, if they suspect dodgy practice then investigate it. What you don’t do is take a sector which for the most part is trying its best in the face of constant rule tinkering, guidance revisions and delays to Standards and EPA roll out and subject it to another bout of RoATP!

    I suspect this will provide job justification for a number of civil servants just at a time when the chancellor will be looking at the public finances and asking departments to make ‘savings’ – sorry Minister all our Civil Servants are busy scoring RoATP!

    Here’s a radical thought – lets look beyond COVID, get Civil Servants out from behind their ‘desk-based analysis’ of the sector, pay providers a visit, see good (and bad) practice for yourself. Einstein would have called this the observer effect – in other words you change things simply by the act of observation – RoATP will never do that, and sitting behind a desk will never do that either.

  3. Anonymous

    Funding per apprentice is stupidly low and based on unrealistic group sizes. The aim of opening up the market to improve quality has failed. Government departments have different agendas do not work tougher and do not hold each other to account. The percentage of funding that goes on admin is depressingly high. Admin requirements are getting worse. How will this help quality when all providers will spend thousands just to complete this form. Will they cancel the application process a republish a few months later when a couple of key colleges don’t have the resources to do it properly and mess it up like before? The fact this news was released during national apprenticeship week is not a coincidence. Don’t sorry though supper providers will solve all our problems just like before…if only everyone had a famous dad….it’s not like people growing too quickly has ever done any harm to this sector ….

  4. I wish it would go back to awarding bodies, national skills academies and joining training consortiums with skills agencies qualified in the area of expertise letting ITPs in to do the jobs based on skills and experience.

    Ah the good old days of actual work.

    Not any more. Now the scamsters are robbing the till daily through Roatp. The small training providers are now dead. … shame really