The Department for Education is eyeing an earlier release of next year’s apprenticeship funding rules as part of efforts to help providers and employers meet their obligations.
The DfE’s head of apprenticeship funding policy, John Myers (far left seated in main image), told Thursday’s Streamlining the System conference in Birmingham that the department would release the rules before May.
While not wishing to put a firm date on that, Myers said the department is currently working on a schedule roughly four weeks earlier than this year’s.
Conference delegates said that July – when the rules have been released in some previous years – was too late to implement all of the requirements needed.
Funding rules go live on August 1 each year.
Myers said: “We want to be ahead of the game this year, we want to publish rules earlier. We started earlier.”
He added: “We need to pitch it where it is just right where we get the rules out more quickly, but we allow the policies to settle. It will be out before May this year, but I don’t want to put a date on it just yet until we know clearly the policy changes we want to make.”
The Association of Employment and Learning Providers, which ran Thursday’s conference in partnership with the DfE, has put forward a host of other changes to simplify the funding rules, which the department is currently considering.
However, Myers said it is already backing some of the ideas, such as an online eligibility checker to help employers and individuals see if they meet the criteria for programme funding, and reducing duplication. He said the team had already found around 50 rules which are duplicated that can be stripped out.
In addition, AELP feedback said the funding rules for employers was too long and smaller employers did not have the time or resources to go through them thoroughly. It has called for the DfE to consider amalgamating provider and employer rules and provide a shorter synopsis to help smaller businesses understand the rules quickly.
Simon Ashworth (speaking at the podium in the main image), AELP policy director said: “We’re really pleased that the skills minister and officials at the DfE confirmed plans at our conference today to publish the apprenticeship funding rules for 2023/24 as early as possible.
“Getting funding rules in place earlier in the year will be a great help to providers. We also welcome the department’s commitment to reduce burdens on providers and employers taking on apprentices, and hope to see detailed plans soon.”