Providers found ignoring apprenticeship register application guidance just hours from critical deadline

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Organisations wanting to deliver apprenticeships from next May are failing to follow instructions from the Skills Funding Agency just hours before a critical deadline.

The new Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers, which providers have to be on if they want to deliver apprenticeship starts from May 1 next year, closes for applications at 5pm today (November 25).

The SFA has been clear that providers can only register under one of three routes – the main route, the supporting route and the employer-provider route.

But at lunchtime today it issued a message to all providers via its BRAVO e-tendering portal that not everyone was following instructions.

The message (pictured below), which had the subject line ‘Important message’, said: “The SFA has noticed that some organisations have submitted multiple PQQs (Pre-Qualification Questionnaires) despite clear guidance.”

“Organisations are reminded that only one PQQ route must be submitted. Please check that this is the case.”

Providers that have applied for more than one route should decide which one is their preferred route, and decline the other, the message continued.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said: “The SFA’s guidance is very clear on this, so it is a little surprising that there is confusion about it.

“It just goes to show that in the few remaining hours until the deadline, providers and employers must thoroughly check and recheck their applications against the guidance before they hit the Send button.”

The supporting route is an “entry route to the apprenticeship market for organisations that offer a specialism, and providers who only want to deliver as a subcontractor”, according to the SFA’s guidance.

The employer-provider route is for companies that wish to deliver apprenticeship training to their own staff.

Providers and employers must thoroughly check and recheck their applications

The SFA’s guidance clearly stated that providers “must apply through one of the application routes”.

And, in a separate ‘important message’ on its BRAVO e-tendering portal at 13:31 today, the SFA has also highlighted that providers tendering for funding to deliver training to non-levy-paying employers also need to submit a main route PQQ.

It said: “We would like to remind applicants that if you are submitting an ITT application, this MUST be submitted in addition to a main route PQQ. Failure to submit a main route PQQ will lead to your ITT submission being automatically excluded as we will be unable to process your application without a main route PQQ submission.”

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2 Comments

  1. What do I think?

    Hmm – nearly 200 FAQ responses released so clearly providers have struggled with the process and the guidance released. It’s not easy.
    Providers who are in scope for OfSTED and FE Choices have info and data which is already in the public domain. Our FE Choices score for overall employer satisfaction is 8.9 so I have quoted that in the tender. A provider not I scope could say their internal survey score is 10 out of 10 and that data is not in the public domain. Does the person scoring my tender understand that or just think 10 is better than 8.9 and give their overall marks to who looks best?

    Same could be said for achievement rates where some providers have published rates and some don’t.

    The pre-tender briefing I attended included a comment along the lines of “assume the scorers don’t know anything”. I really hope that is not the case as there is a huge amount of public investment at stake here and employer trust in established relationships.

  2. David Armory

    I can understand why some have done this. Many I am sure will ideally want to follow the Main Route, but fearing failure in this application have completed the Supporting Route too, as an insurance in the hope it slips through. I am sure such applicants would ask why they couldn’t apply for two routes considering the lack of clarity on when the ROATP register will open again.