The Education and Skills Funding Agency will miss its deadline to reveal the winners of its national adult education budget procurement just weeks before contracts are due to start.
The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) is now calling for existing contracts to be extended.
Training providers were initially told the results would be revealed in mid-June. That was then delayed to “before the end of June” in a notification to providers last Thursday.
A further update today confirmed that this deadline will once again be missed.
“Due to unforeseen delays in final clearances, we are unable to meet this expectation.
“We are committed to providing notification as soon as possible and do not expect this delay to be lengthy, and we will you keep you updated through the Jaggaer messaging system.”
The new adult education budget contracts are due to begin in just over four weeks, on August 1. The procurement was launched in February.
Today’s update suggested there could be mitigations that “take into account the impact these delays may have on successful bidders’ delivery of the contract, in terms of targets and associated KPI.”
There was no further detail on what those mitigations might look like.
Simon Ashworth, director of policy at AELP, said it was “extremely disappointing” that “yet again an ESFA procurement exercise fails to be delivered on time.”
“Existing contract holders have been left hanging when they have commitments for staff and premises and successful bidders will have a limited notice period to be ready for starting delivery from August” Ashworth said.
He added: “To mitigate this the ESFA should offer an extension to existing contract holders to support with the transition, whilst also ensuring performance management arrangements for new contracts holders allows for a slower start to delivery than would have been expected.”
The Agency appears to have not learned the lessons from the last national AEB procurement in 2021 which was also beset with delays. In that round, bid results were only released to providers two weeks before contracts were due to start.
The Department for Education was approached for comment. A spokesperson repeated:
“We are committed to providing a notification to bidders as soon as possible and do not expect this delay to be lengthy.
“Any impact of these delays will be taken into account in terms of targets and associated KPIs.”