Colleges not on apprenticeships’ register still advertising vacancies

High-profile colleges that failed to get onto the government’s new register of apprenticeship training providers the first time round are still advertising vacancies, as they nervously wait for permission to deliver them.

The revelation, which Birmingham Metropolitan College and Solihull College openly admitted to, comes as FE Week has learned the results of the second round of applications for the register of apprenticeship training providers may be announced this week.

In March, the Education and Skills Funding Agency published the first ever RoATP list of providers, who would be eligible to deliver apprenticeships from May.

A number of large colleges with significant apprenticeship allocations were rejected, but subsequently told they had another chance of getting on in a second application process.

Two of these were Birmingham Metropolitan College and Solihull College, who have continued to advertise apprenticeship vacancies on their websites in the hope they will make it on to the register to deliver their starts from June.

When asked about this, after FE Week spotted the advertisements (pictured above), BMet’s principal Andrew Cleaves said it “made no sense” for his college to stop promoting vacancies, given they are the largest provider of apprenticeships in Birmingham.

He told FE Week: “We are a major provider of apprenticeships and have confidence of getting back on to the register.

“We continue to promote apprenticeships of course, but we absolutely won’t sign anybody up until we get back on the register.”

Mr Cleaves added that if his colleges fails to get on the register again, then the advertised starts will “go to our many partners who do get on the register”.

John Callaghan, principal of Solihull College, echoed the reasons given by Mr Cleaves for why his college has continued to advertise apprenticeships.

He told FE Week: “We believe we will get on the register this time. The apprenticeships we are advertising now will be for starts in June, and if we fail to get on we would then put these starts through to someone that was on the register.

“I can categorically say that with no degree of uncertainty that we are not starting anybody in May but clearly we can’t just stop business.”

Mr Callaghan explained that if his college was to wait until the end of May to advertise apprenticeships, they would have to wait another four to six weeks to get the ball rolling again, effectively meaning “we wouldn’t be starting apprenticeships until late July or August”.

The ongoing RoATP fiasco has caused chaos in the FE sector since the initial list was published in March.

The selection process was branded an “omnishambles” by shadow skills minister Gordon Marsden, after FE Week revealed providers with no delivery experience whatsoever had found their way onto the register while huge, established colleges missed out.

One person operating from a rented office in Knutsford, Cheshire had succeeded in getting their three companies, Cranage Ltd, Obscurant Limited, and Tatton Solutions Ltd onto the approved ‘main route’ register – even though none of them had run government-funded apprenticeships.

But meanwhile, not a single college in Birmingham was included on the register until significant pressure forced ministers at the Department for Education to add one – South & City College Birmingham – in an updated list on April 13.

In all, FE Week estimates that at least 21 colleges that were eligible to apply, with a combined allocation of £44 million, did not make it onto the register.

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