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

The apprenticeship programmes delivered by the hotelier De Vere are under review and “likely to change” as part of an assessment into provision and standards.

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) is looking into every short apprenticeship, alongside the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), following the introduction of Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England (SASE).

However, news of the review into De Vere follows an investigation by FE Week into programmes on NAS’ vacancy site.

More than 700 De Vere vacancies of either 12 week (customer service) or 16 week (professional cookery) are currently available to view online, taking place at a number of nationwide De Vere Academies.

The De Vere Academy of Hospitality advert says they aim “to inspire and create talented hospitality industry stars of the future through the provision of work-based learning.”

It is “open to those aged 16-24 years and no previous experience or academic qualifications are required” and pays £104 per week (the minimum apprenticeship wage) for a 40 hour week over five days.

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

A statement from NAS, issued to FE Week this morning (Friday), said: “We have already indicated to De Vere that their programme does not meet the comprehensive standards for apprenticeship programmes.

“However, we believe their programme provides appropriate and valuable provision for young people who want to work in the sector.”

It also added: “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 designed 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 and the 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.”

At the time of going to press, the reference to “under review and likely to change” could not be found.

The SASE was published in January, which is when NAS and SFA began their review.

It was also followed by the publication of the Statement on the Quality of Apprenticeship Delivery Models by NAS in August (click here).

The statement said the review will “closely consider the circumstances of each programme with the college or training provider” which will help them “fully understand the delivery model and make a judgement on whether provision meets the comprehensive standards” which have been established for apprenticeships.

It added: “These standards include SASE, the requirements of the Apprenticeship Framework approved by the relevant Issuing Authority, the Quality of Apprenticeships Delivery Model and the Funding Requirements.

“It is anticipated that through this review we will determine some provision, while not meeting these standards, still provides appropriate and valuable training for young people who would otherwise not be in education, training or employment.”

However, NAS has warned that it will remove funding from providers which fail to meet the required standard.

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

“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 training, as well as giving them the opportunity to progress onto an apprenticeship programme.”

FE Week approached De Vere on Tuesday and is awaiting a response.

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    • Carlton Calver

      NAS aren’t brave enough to withdraw the framework achievement so the qualifications will stand; whilst the learners have achieved has it become embedded and are they progressing to jobs. If the answers are yes then it has been of benefit to the learners. If the answer is no then De Vere make money and NAS meet their targets but nothing else is achieved.

  1. NAS started this provision in the first place. On DeVere’s own website it states;
    ‘It is a unique private/public initiative. Alternative Hotel Group, owner of 65 major hotels and venues across the UK, including De Vere Hotels, De Vere Venues and Village, is working with the National Apprenticeship Service (“NAS”) and is supported by local government. The Academy will be opened to students aged 16-24 years old.’
    It also states;
    ‘The De Vere Academy’s initial goal was to train approximately 300 students a year in its first school at Cheadle House. However, as the programme progressed, it became quickly apparent that the model was scalable to locations throughout the UK. Due to the outstanding results in achievement, completion and ultimate placement, the Academy has become an attractive proposition for many local authorities. Indeed, Stockport has reported a 5.5% reduction in its projected NEET figures since the launch of the first De Vere Academy, and attributes this reduction directly to the opening.
    Using this platform, NAS has actively encouraged The Academy to adopt an aggressive roll-out programme with the intention of creating national coverage. Two further locations to take the school up to have also been scheduled for early next year’

    Chasing targets has started all this ‘worthless’ provision

  2. lindsay mccurdy

    NAS has got to take responsibility for these apprenticeships as they have been involved with De Vere from the start. is this the start of the floodgates opening, Next the apprentices who are given to businesses for free with the providers paying the apprentice wages.

    • Amy Ealing

      Its clear to see that the usual “College brigade” are on her complaining bitterly about quantity over quality. In the real world (i.e. the private sector) the Government doesn’t bail you out if you run out of money because you’ve delivered a Customer Service apprenticeship over 2 years like I know some colleges still do! This is the 2011 and not 1971. Government funding has been slashed dramatically over the last 2 years and that has caused this problem not greed – in order to continue to deliver these programmes of course they need to be delivered in a more cost effective manner… You should welcome innovation not stifle it.

  3. lindsay mccurdy

    The de vere group have been working with NAS from the start of the academies and have always been upfront about the length of the apprenticeships, why did’nt NAS from the start work with the de vere group to make them into 10 month min apprenticeships?, I feel it is NAS who should be apologising for endorsing these 12 week apprenticeships from the start.I don’t think anyone is asking for a 2 year apprenticeship in customer service, but for it to be a true apprenticeship with real value to apprentices and future employers a min of 10 – 12 months is essential.

  4. Kim Cook

    I am aware of at least 6 accelerated apprenticeship providers in our area, offering 12 week apprenticeships in customer service, painting and decorating, catering, admin to name a few and all have been reported to NAS. Everyone of these providers is sub contracting to a college (we did the paper chase to find out who the prime contractors were) There is no way even the most able student could achieve a quality apprenticeship in professional cookery in 12 weeks or even a painting and decorating one, when all they are doing is refurbishing old factory units. The brand is being damaged but the flood gates were opened after De Vere and NAS only have themselves to blame – they were warned this would happen. This is just the tip of the iceberg

    • Amy Ealing

      I think you’ll find some of these courses are more like 16-20 weeks and not 12 weeks, so a “slight” (33%+) over exaggeration on that front.

      Just because a course is 16 weeks as long as it is intense(or “accelerated” – I love how you’ve used that phrase) and completes the required GLH for the SASE and the AO are accrediting them what’s the problem?? All this is hot air.

      • It’s not the GLH or the qualification that is the problem, it’s the length. An Apprenticeship is two sides, its the qualification element and its a work ready element. Meaning the learner has a true experience of the sector they are studying in. Do you feel that after 16 weeks in a job, you know that job inside out? No you don’t, and therefore a learner doesn’t either. That leaves the learner (who has no progression into a job with the fast track provider they are with) not job ready and unemployable.
        The idea of completing a framework in 16 weeks is a great idea, just don’t badge it as an apprenticeship, because it isn’t one