Five join register of flexi-job apprenticeship agencies after failed bids reconsidered

Five organisations pass new financial sustainability assessment to join register

Five organisations pass new financial sustainability assessment to join register

adult education

Five organisations have been added to the register of flexi-job apprenticeship agencies, after the Department for Education reconsidered their previously failed bids.

But the new additions will be subject to additional check-ins going forward.

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, EdAid Ltd, Digital Innovator, The New Leaf Initiative and South West Apprenticeship Company (SWAC) joined the register last week, bringing the total up to 35 organisations.

The five organisations had applied in the autumn 2022 window and had been initially unsuccessful, before the DfE confirmed it would be re-assessing bids which failed solely on financial grounds against an “additional test of sustainability”.

Sixteen fresh names joined the register in January having been successful in the autumn application window – just over half of the numbers that applied.

Existing financial evaluations remain in place, but organisations which could satisfy the requirements of the sustainability assessment could join subject to additional oversight by the department, it confirmed last month.

The existing checks include an assessment of key financial documents such as full accounts, end of period profit and loss accounts, balance sheet and data on creditors.

A financial health grade of outstanding, good, satisfactory or inadequate is then given based on profitability, solvency and debt ratio.

The DfE said the new sustainability assessment includes elements such as assessing trading history, sources of funding and current financial position of applicants.

That sustainability assessment will continue for future application windows alongside the existing financial checks.

The department confirmed that it already has oversight of all organisations on the register of flexi-job apprenticeship agencies, but the additional oversight for those joining from the new sustainability assessment could include additional data requests or more frequent check-ins.

The five new names were contacted directly by the department for reconsideration.

Flexi-job apprenticeship agencies are designed to support apprentices in areas which traditionally have shorter employment patterns or project-based working, such as in the creative industries and construction, where it is more challenging to employ a learner for a 12-month apprenticeship duration.

Organisations on the register effectively act as an anchor for the apprentices and handle the administration, while the learners move around several employers through the duration of their course.

The register launched with 15 organisations in February last year, 11 of which shared £5 million of grant funding. By the autumn, two had dropped out and one additional organisation had joined, before a further 16 joined in January.

None of the additions in January gained grant funding.

The autumn application window featured industries which had not been represented on the register for the first time, such as life sciences and the pharmaceutical sector, as the DfE explained it was keen to try the model on new sectors.

According to the register, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce joined for the creative sector, Digital Innovators operates in the digital space and EdAid is involved in the creative and digital markets.

SWAC and The New Leaf Initiative operate across multiple sectors.

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