Providers delivering in the workplace will receive almost 40 per cent less funding when they are forced to switch from Adult Basic Skills (ABS) Certificates to Functional Skills qualifications in August.

The current version of the Learning Aim Reference Application (LARA) shows that while providers receive £505 for each ABS qualification they deliver, under Functional Skills they will receive only £314 (see table).

Trudi Stevens, owner of Green Lantern Training Company said: “Take 20 per cent off for the prime’s cut (and it) leaves me £240 to deliver it.

“Remove £50 for registration and certification, £10 for training materials and 20 per cent for overheads – I’m left (with) £132 to deliver what will be at least 20 hours teaching, which works out at £6.60 an hour.

“I could get more stacking shelves in my local Aldi.”

NIACE is particularly concerned because of the challenging nature of the assessment of Functional Skills and the increased costs of supporting learners to successful achievement.”

Further concerns have been voiced on the “Apprenticeships England” LinkedIn group.

Rachel Squires, a work-based learning co-ordinator at Bicton College said: “With the pressures on training providers to complete, achieve and fund I can unfortunately see the focus being removed from the young person and their career opportunities.

“Functional Skills is becoming the final barrier that is proving just too much for many to get over. So many work-based learners who have a real and positive role to play in the workplace, have drive, enthusiasm and practical skills, yet can’t get through level 1 Functional Skills will be dropped as the resources are not there to get them through.”

The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) say they are also worried about the decision.

Carol Taylor, director of development and research at NIACE said: “If, according to these figures that the funding available for the delivery of functional skills in the workplace (especially for level 1 and 2) is no greater than that which is currently available for literacy and numeracy that would be a cause for concern.  NIACE is particularly concerned because of the challenging nature of the assessment of Functional Skills and the increased costs of supporting learners to successful achievement.”

A spokesman for the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) said: “We are heavily engaged in discussions about trying to ensure that Functional Skills funding more properly reflects costs of delivery.”

The funding rate for functional skills was added to the LARA on March 24 as part of the Employer Responsive (ER) Other provision.

“The funding rate for Functional Skills has been set at 0.12 Standard SLNs,” the SFA website reads.

“The funding value has been set based on the recommendation of the Funding

External Technical Advisory Group that advises the Agency on funding rates and is based on the average time taken to deliver Functional Skills in ALR.”

ABS qualifications in numeracy and literacy at level 1 and 2 will cease to be funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) from August.

However, it is understood that entry level ABS Certificates will continue to be funded into 2013.

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  1. I would love to know who sits on the Funding External Technical Advisory Group and exactly how they worked out the “average time to deliver Functional Skills in ALR”. I would put in a FOI request but I haven’t got the time or energy.

    If I was a cynical, wizened old provider I would assume that they have a fixed amount of pennies, another impossible target to hit and they just divided one number into the other.

  2. The SFA recognize that the hours of guided training for Functional Skills needs to increase from 36 hours for ABS to 54. However although one might expect an increase in funding of 50% this actually equates to a reduction of 38% as ” the introduction of freedom and flexibilities and single Adult Single Budget allows al providers,including many training providers for the first time, to deliver classroom provision.” Stand alone Functional Skills qualifications in the workplace simply cannot and will not be delivered in the classroom and with the planned funding rates revealed early last month, but only now being debated, will not be delivered at all. My organization have successfully delivered 000s of workplace ABS certificates over the last 6 years and now we have an excellent new set of qualifications to address the undoubted skills crisis and the funding will ensure zero take up. Please please think again SFA – the vast majority of delivery is on a one to one basis which makes the existing funding barely economic and the planned funding impossible!

  3. Tina West

    The funding rates for Functional Skills are completely unrealistic. As a large employer we also get hit with an additional 25% reduction which means that we currently receive the grand sum of £103 per apprentice to deliver a functional skills qualfication!