Employer Ownership of Skills pilot delayed by Ministers

The Employer Ownership of Skills pilot will not launch in August as planned, according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

Applicants were supposed to be contacted by the Commission in June and July, with the delivery of successful bids starting in August.

However, a UKCES spokesperson told FE Week they were still waiting for Ministers to give a final sign off on the projects.

“Following this we will issue the outcome letters to bidders,” the spokesperson said.

“Projects can start as soon as the due diligence and grant letter negotiation is complete.”

The UKCES spokesperson added that they expected the sign off to be given by Ministers “very soon”.

The first round of the pilot, worth £50 million, will pay for projects which deliver skills development and vocational training, such as apprenticeships, from August to the end of July 2014.

Trudi Stevens, owner of Green Lantern Training, told FE Week she knew there was “a good chance” the launch of the pilot would be delayed.

She said: “The greater issue, and one that requires delicate handling, is managing the expectations of the employers who will be involved.

“We have been honest about the potential changes in timings.

“Knowing that the programme would probably slip (and anticipating that even some of the ground rules might change) we have had to be careful about what commitments we make to them, and what commitments we expect from them up front.

“There is enough cynicism and misinformation out there without adding to it by making promises we know we probably can’t keep due to last minute changes.”

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  1. Oh great – so we are going to give a whole load of funding to organisations who half the time can’t even get their own training and skills development sorted.
    Isn’t it about time some of us small businesses with real solutions get a chance to get some funding?!
    It’s because of these big spends that we are in this mess, we should be thinking about how we manage this more effectively and not how much money we can give out to what is already big pockets!

  2. I must confess I’m mystified by this initiative. There is already funding for apprenticeships – this new funding is for apprenticeships outside SASE, or “innovative apprenticeship solutions” as the marketing people and skills agenda nerds might term them. If an SASE framework is no good then there are processes to change it – surely just “throwing money at the problem” is precisely what this government is supposed to be against.

    Clearly there is room to improve apprenticeship delivery by developing new learning programmes and imaginative learning materials and by training more industry based people to teach, mentor etc. This would be a worthwhile investment yet the minimum bid allowed for this pilot was £1,000,000. You’d have to put together a pretty gold plated bid to get anywhere near that sum, which leads to the conclusion that this money is primarily to pay for delivery costs, rather than those for product design and support.

    So is this money going eventually to replace mainstream apprenticeship funding? If an employer gives up an apprenticeship contract and opts for this pilot finding instead, can they then go back to mainstream funding if they want or have to?