NAS could withdraw funding from providers as they look into “every short apprenticeship”

Funding will be withdrawn from providers who fail to meet standards as government agencies bid to tackle short apprenticeships.

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) is working alongside the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) to review every short apprenticeship programme.

It comes following the introduction of Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England (SASE) and a series of stories by FE Week, highlighting the concerns over the rising delivery of 12-week apprenticeships.

NAS say the review will “closely consider the circumstances of each short apprenticeship programme with the college or training provider” so they can “fully understand the delivery model and can make a judgement” on whether it meets SASE.

Ultimately, funding will be cut from those which do not come up to scratch.

A spokesperson for NAS said: “Throughout the review, our priority will be to remove apprenticeship funding from provision which fails to meet the required standard, while maintaining provision that supports young people into employment or other training, as well as giving them the opportunity to progress onto an apprenticeship programme.”

However, NAS also said they expect to find some programmes which, despite not meeting the SASE standards, “still provide appropriate and valuable training for young people” not in education, employment or training.

The spokesperson added: “We will work with the providers and employers of such provision, and where appropriate also with the YPLA and SFA, to secure suitable alternative funding where that is appropriate.”

Where apprenticeship provision does not meet the required standards, funding will be withdrawn.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said John Hayes MP, the minister for further education, skills and lifelong learning, is in discussions with NAS over issues with apprenticeships.

She also said that of apprenticeships starting between August 1, 2010, and April 30, 2011, three per cent lasted less than thirteen weeks.

The spokesperson added: “NAS is scrutinising each of these programmes to ensure they are of a high quality, ensure successful outcomes for companies and individuals and provide good value for public investment.”

She also added: “Where apprenticeship provision does not meet the required standards, funding will be withdrawn.”

Although NAS were unable to give further details on the review, including how many programmes it will affect, an investigation by FE Week on the agency’s vacancy website found more than 700 listed for 12 or 16 weeks by De Vere Group.

The hotelier offers apprenticeships in customer service and professional cookery at nationwide De Vere Academy of Hospitality.

They are open to 16 to 24-year-olds, paying £104 per week (the minimum apprenticeship wage) for a 40 hour week over five days.

While acknowledging programmes delivered by De Vere do not meet the SASE requirements, NAS say they do provide “appropriate and valuable provision for young people” who want to work in the hospitality sector.

However, the NAS spokesperson said: “We intend to work with De Vere and the Sector Skills Council for the hospitality sector, People 1st, to develop a tailored ‘Access to Apprenticeship’ pathway to meet the specific needs of employers in the sector that will offer a high quality opportunity to young people wanting to work in the sector.

“While we work together to identify an alternative source of funding, we will continue to support De Vere, young people and employers involved in the programme.

“All live De Vere vacancies posted on the apprenticeship vacancy site will indicate that the provision is under review and is likely to change.”

Meanwhile, De Vere Group – which employs its apprentices under the ‘Academy’ brand and was formally known as the Alternative Hotel Group – said that they have been working with NAS for the last three months.

A spokesman for the firm said: “We are working closely with NAS and together we are confident we can agree a new delivery model that ensures we can continue to support employers and young people who want to work in the hospitality sector.”

Related articles in FE Week (incl. info graphic ~ 11mb):

Adult apprenticeships benefit from Train to Gain funding

Government figures show adult apprenticeships more than tripled

Hundreds of 12 week apprenticeships advertised on NAS website are ‘under review’

Short 12 week apprenticeships are off the menu

Remind me again why I pay the training budget of a $422bn company?

City and Guilds allocated more than £8m for 25,000 Asda Apprentices

Morrisons, Elmfied and the over 25 Apprentices

12 week apprenticeships still advertised

Will 12 week apprentices ever be derailed?

Latest apprenticeship policy slammed

NAS concerned about quality following rapid apprenticeship expansion

Concern at 12 week apprenticeships

External related links:

Guardian: Jobs rebranded as apprenticeships, government report warns

Guardian: Apprenticeship figures are not what they seem

Telegraph: Apprenticeships double but concerns over ‘chasing targets’

Mail on Sunday: The great apprentice racket: Some jobs fall short of skills as firms collect millions

Guardian: Big increase in apprenticeships due to ‘striking rise’ in trainees over 25

BBC Radio 4 In Business programme on supermarket apprentices

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