Local authorities come under the FE Week 2015/16 adult apprenticeship allocations spotlight

The exclusive front page story of edition 154 on low levels of apprenticeship delivery among colleges promised more analysis.

And so while last week’s coverage expanded on this to feature apprenticeship allocations for all general FE colleges, this week it’s the turn of local authorities (LAs).

Dr Sue Pember, director of policy and external relations at Holex, said: “This is a very interesting table and demonstrates community learning providers are diversifying into apprenticeship provision.

“With the support of the Education and Training Foundation Future Apprenticeship development programme more providers are able to start or enhance their offer and I am confident numbers will grow.

“One thing we should watch out for is this table may not be a good indicator when reviewing the totality of an LA’s commitment to apprenticeships. For example, it may have entered into a partnership with at least one external provider for the specialist vocational programmes it needs for its own staff.

“Those numbers would appear on the independent provider list.”




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  1. Peter marples

    As with the previous articles on colleges, if the analysis is designed to show the development or not of apprenticeships, I fail to see why it doesn’t include 16-18 apprenticeships. After all, it comes from the sale Sfa table published three times a year. Also would then be to map onto that analysis the extent of subcontracting. Now that would be very interesting. Add into that ofsted grade.

    Happy to send it to fe week if excel skills are lacking – but in essence large providers of apps that don’t sub contract get good ofsted grades !!

  2. R Carter

    Is this really the wisest way to invest £101 million plus of the Adult Skills Budget? Wouldn’t it be better spent with colleges or other organisations who’s core business is in delivering high quality teaching, learning and assessment for adults and young people? I struggle to understand why Local Authorities are doing this in an era when they are supposed to be focussing in on their core functions rather than dabbling in areas which would be better undertaken by others.

  3. Good point R Carter but what concerns me even more is that as a result of Devolution – eg. Sheffield, Liverpool, Tees Valley, North East – the government is going to hand over what remains of the non-Apprenticeship Adult Skills Budget to groups of Local Authorities (Combined Authorities). But surely as long as they have their own in-house adult education departments there is going to be a conflict of interest. What will there be to stop Local Authorities just keeping the devolved ASB “in house”? Surely one of the basic conditions for devolution of the ASB should be a clear separation between Local/Combined Authorities as commissioners and providers of adult education???

  4. Hang on, we need to put this into perspective.
    1. Look at the sizes of allocations – in the wider scheme of things, most are not very big at all.
    2. LAs mostly commission out their provision – few actually keep them “in-house”
    3. A large chunk of LA ASB is spent on engaging hard to reach and disadvantaged learners and dealing with local literacy and numeracy issues.
    4. Some LAs supplement their safeguarded budget for “First Step” and Family Learning programmes that support communities to re-engage.

    LAs never used to spend their FE cash on Apprenticeships until fairly recently. Many have embraced them and have wider Apprenticeship strategies as enablers rather than deliverers.
    Many are coming round and to be frank, some shouldn’t – they may not have the expertise, but their wider work should not be de-valued.

    Oh, and I do not work for an LA…..!!

  5. An education provider is an education provider, does it matter that some are Local authorities. Surely it’s the quality and efficiency that count.
    While the sector is at each others throats squabbling over the scraps, the message of the value of further education is being drowned out.

  6. M. Parker

    I agree re quality and efficiency – but how efficient can it be for a LA to be in receipt of less than £100k per annum of SFA adult budget (a large % of the total – 35-40 by my reckoning). At a time when it is being asked to downsize again that surely cant be an effective use of SFA time to administer (or Ofsted to inspect, for that matter). And at the LA end it probably costs not much less to administer and manage whatever activity is taking place. I’snt there an argument for “fewer and larger”? ie. the same that is being asked of colleges in the area review process – bearing in mind that LA chief execs are members of area review steering groups too!

    • all4one

      There is an argument for fewer and larger and in theory it sounds great, but the downside is that it tends to decrease flexibility and when it goes wrong a greater number of learners are affected. There haven’t been many positive tales of successful mergers for quite some time, but is that because they’ve been poorly managed or because there are too many conflicting variables at play?
      On the efficiency angle I’d argue that LAs have had to become more efficient in terms of administration as the learner volumes versus funding proportions are much more demanding in their predominantly part-time delivery.
      The bottom line is that the government is not going to get anywhere near it’s aspiration of 300k apprenticeships if it starts excluding providers from delivery.