Colleges, training providers and employers have flooded to Birmingham for the Annual Apprenticeships Conference (AAC) 2019 which officially gets underway this morning.

Across two days the conference, in partnership with the Department for Education and now in its fifth year, will provide over 1,200 delegates with an opportunity to access vital updates on apprenticeships policy and debate how programmes can be successfully delivered.

Discussions will undoubtedly focus on this month’s National Audit Office report which warned the apprenticeships programme is not financially sustainable based on current trends, as well as a subsequent Public Accounts Committee hearing that saw MPs grill government officials on the report’s findings including value for money and future affordability.

Our agenda is the best one yet

Changes to the levy and the 20 per cent off-the-job training rule are also likely to be heavily discussed, among other hot topics.

Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark is hosting the conference, and on day one AAC guests will hear from FE Week editor Nick Linford, as well as Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Mark Dawe, before keynote speeches from Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education chief executive Sir Gerry Berragan

Day two will see keynote speeches from the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s apprenticeships director Keith Smith, head of education and skills at the Confederation of British Industry John Cope, and shadow skills minister Gordon Marsden among others.

Skills minister Anne Milton will close the conference.

A range of workshops will be run throughout both days, which will see speakers, including government officials, provide updates on topics including the government’s new register of apprenticeship providers, end-point assessment, funding, audits and inspections.

Nick Linford on stage at AAC

Click here to view the full agenda.

Shane Mann, managing director of FE Week’s publisher Lsect, said: “It’s incredibly exciting to launch this year’s Annual Apprenticeship Conference in partnership with the Department for Education.

“Our agenda is the best one yet, packed with high-profile speakers who will give vital updates to everyone involved in the apprenticeships sector.

“Delegates will have the opportunity to meet with and hear from an array of leading civil servants from the IfA and DfE, which is invaluable at a time of uncertainty.

“The idea for this conference was conceived following a meeting with the then skills ministers, Matt Hancock, and it has grown each year since. We kicked off in 2015 back in London, where we had 400 delegates, this week we will welcome over 1,200 delegates.”

A glitzy gala dinner will end the conference on Thursday night where the winners of this year’s AAC Awards will be revealed.

Follow @FEWeek on Twitter for live updates throughout the conference, the hashtag for which is #FEWEEKAAC19.

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