I wouldn’t ‘trust’ the new Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers

Many of the colleges and training providers that failed to get on the apprenticeship provider register are red-faced.

Not just angry but embarrassed, given some simply failed to comprehensively answer the questions in the tender document.

The SFA is sticking to its guns, but I suspect a quick reapplication will result in this being a temporary setback.

A much bigger concern should be whether this new register contains only what the DfE press release described as “top-quality training providers”.

Robert Halfon, the apprenticeships minister, when unveiling the register, also said: “We are giving employers the confidence to do business with high-quality training providers.”

And we’ve since received press releases from jubilant firms claiming they have been given what they call “government trusted training provider status”.

But, to my surprise, it turns out companies with little or no trading history have successfully found their way onto the register.

These new firms probably wrote beautiful apprenticeship plans in their application, but in the real world employers get confidence from experience.

The SFA said they would set the entry bar high, but as exposed in the pages of FE Week, this has proven not to be the case.

So employers will still need to do their own due diligence when picking a provider, posing the question: why bother with a register at all?

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  1. Agree with your point here, we actually failed and I’ve advised one of our levy paying clients that it’s happened. They conducted due diligence on us about 6 months ago (financial, testimonies etc) and are happy with everything. We’ve worked with them to develop their apprenticeship programme.

    They’ve basically turned around and said they’re only going to use us because they’ve had four other providers in with Grade 1 or 2 Ofsted grades, who’ve basically enrolled learners and never visited them again.

    Our options are limited now, we’ll be able to get our hands on funding somewhere but it’s just going to be watered down to the point we’ll struggle to make any money out of it.

    It’s all a mess in my opinion. Nearly 20 years in this sector and I just feel like giving up on it all. For the first time ever I’ve lost my passion for it, which is upsetting.

  2. Tony B

    This article is right on the mark. We too have failed to make it on the register. We are a Grade 2 provider with genuine good quality provision and our achievement rates are improving year on year (well above national averages). I have seen providers who are on the register who have been graded as ‘INADEQUATE’ for Apprenticeships by Ofsted and many require improvement overall. How on earth can these be deemed ‘Top Quality Training Providers’ by the SFA? It’s completely staggering.

  3. Victoria

    Completely agree with every single point being made. You can submit a complaint via the SFA complaints procedure as I too am in the same position. I have submitted a complaint as I am not prepared to sit back and accept this new register. It jeopardises the entire future of the quality of apprenticeships. The SFA have the opportunity to address this now before its too late and put on the providers & colleges who clearly have the track record and quality approval from Ofsted to demonstrate that they should be on there. I sincerely hope that the SFA can come up with a resolution – and quickly.

  4. Cheryk

    The SFA seriously need to look into this matter as a matter of urgency. If employers are to trust providers of apprenticeships, they need to be reassured that the SFA have completed the required due diligence on their behalf. As it stands that is not apparent, low graded Ofsted reports, providers who do not even provide any longer as opposed to providers with a proven track record and good Ofsted reports, after all who are we here for the government or the care providers and their employees to ensure a safe and well educated work force to work with the most vulnerable in our society today. I know who I would choose hands down.

  5. Louise

    I think this is exactly the reason providers are seeking quality approvals from other organisations to enhance their reputation. No quality assurance of delivery of new standards and no understanding of who can deliver what (or deliver well) is the reason employers will look elsewhere for confirmation of quality.

  6. The selection of training providers with a record of poor quality assurance is certainly a concern. However, I still find it a surprising that established well run organisations, including colleges, were unable to put together ‘beautiful apprenticeship plans’ in their respective proposals. This is part of the procedure, understood and applied in many aspects of business. Bid writing is a skill that may be seen as necessary evil to initially demonstrate competency, but it is often necessary all the same. The writing of a CV is no different. I don’t expect to get a job if I write a poor CV, irrespective of how good I may be. The concern I have is not the lack of experience of some training providers on the list but evidenced poor capability.

    We complain when we apply for a job when we are told we have no experience, then argue ‘how am I supposed to get experience when I can’t get a job?’ The writing of weak proposals should be used as an excuse for non-selection. However, the reliance on a proposal to make decisions that have seen people put out of work requires greater transparency.

  7. Vic Ashley

    This is another example of “it’s not what you can do, it’s what you SAY you can do” – the criterion shouldn’t be your ability to write an impressive bid, but your ability (and willingness) to deliver a quality product.
    The cowboys are hitching their ropes to the rails outside the government funding saloon again, and will soon be riding into the sunset with their saddle bags full of taxpayers’ money. They will then reappear with another company name, having liquidated the original organisation without paying their bills.
    How many times does this have to happen before someone actually puts a process in place to stop it?