All ‘credible’ apprenticeship and traineeship growth requests granted by SFA

All “credible cases” from the latest round of growth requests for apprenticeships and traineeships have been funded, the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) announced today.

This is the result of the agency’s recent “targeted growth exercise”, which also included increases in providers’ 2016-17 allocations “where there is evidence of increased performance”.

It comes after the SFA announced on May 11 that growth requests were being offered for the delivery of any of the new apprenticeship standards.

A statement uploaded onto at the time said the offer would apply to standards — not existing apprenticeship frameworks — but did not specify which ones.

But when asked by FE Week if this meant providers needing more funding could lodge growth requests for “any of the new standards”, an SFA spokesperson said: “Yes, on standards, we have not been specific on sector areas”.

“Requests are subject to affordability and our normal credibility checks,” she added. So far 112 new standards have been approved by the government for delivery.

The SFA announced the result of this process today.

A spokesperson said: “We have funded all credible growth cases to grow delivery in these priority areas ahead of the start of the funding year.

“Alongside this exercise, we have also reviewed the baseline data used in calculating 2016 to 2017 apprenticeship and traineeship allocations, reflecting provider earnings for 12 months up to March 2016.

“Where there is evidence of increased performance, we have increased providers’ 2016 to 2017 allocations accordingly.

“All increases will be included in 2016 to 2017 contract variations which we will be issuing shortly.”

The targeted growth request – which included traineeships as well as apprenticeships – also covered delivery at higher and /or degree level, food, farming and agritech, and those that are science, and technology, engineering and maths (STEM)-based.

Earlier this year providers branded “ridiculous” the overdue news that many of their 16 to 18 apprenticeship and traineeship growth requests had not been funded in full by the SFA.

The agency announced in early February that it had awarded an additional £25m to colleges and training providers to deliver 16 to 18 apprenticeships — but there was no extra cash for 16 to 18 traineeships.

The announcement, which should have been made on January 8, was in response to growth requests submitted by providers to help fund apprenticeships and traineeships in 2015/16.

It came just a week after FE Week exclusively revealed that the delay in confirming the growth requests was due to an over-spend by the Department for Education.

The SFA was unable to say how much funding had been allocated ahead of publication.

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