Providers are being urged to introduce new apprenticeship duration requirements immediately.

The Skills Funding Agency is calling on existing apprentices aged 16-18, where possible, to be given a 12-month minimum programme.

It comes after the skills minister John Hayes’ announcement last year of the year-long minimum for teenage apprentices, which will come into effect on August 1.

The Agency said the requirement will be set out in 2012/13 funding rules, which they hope to publish by the end of March.

A statement posted on their website says: “In announcing this, it is also our expectation that all training organisations and employers start to implement this with immediate effect.

“Whilst the introduction of the new funding rule does not formally apply to those already in learning prior to August, we strongly encourage all training organisations and employers to offer all existing apprentices aged 16-18 a 12-month minimum programme wherever it is possible to do so.”

The statement also gave an insight into how funding is likely to be designed for apprenticeships.

It read: “It is important that we work with the sector to ensure that prior learning is better reflected in apprenticeship funding policies and that public funding is only used to support the delivery of new skills and competencies.”

Although most have welcomed the move, including the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) whose chief executive Graham Hoyle said that it had become “the norm” for the industry already, others are cautious.

Some critics, in comments posted on the FE Week website, believe apprenticeships should be about the amount of on-the-job work experience, rather than a set time period, while others say some do not warrant a year-long duration.

Another concern is for “capable” learners who can finish in a shorter time becoming disillusioned over their programme.

Work is also underway between the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and issuing authorities to ensure frameworks allow “sufficient time” for the apprentice to learn new skills while achieving “the highest level of competence” possible.

The Agency added: “We expect in a small number of cases this will lead to changes in the duration of the framework.”

A review is also taking place to establish if a minimum duration can be applied to apprentices aged 19 and over.

“Once the review is completed, we will ensure that adequate notice is given should any changes to current funding rules be called for by government ministers,” said the Agency.

However, further change has not been met with approval by the AELP.

Mr Hoyle said: “We are still firmly of the view that much greater flexibility needs to be both available and exercised to fully take into account the varying levels of skill and experience that these older workers bring to the completion of a full apprenticeship framework.”



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7 Comments

  1. They should be ‘strongly encouraging’ a useful outcome at the end of the apprenticeship really, not just stretching out these 12 week apprenticeships into 52 weeks where the learner is still jobless at the end. Start monitoring progression SFA, or are you scared of the results?

  2. As always, they are going for a “one size fits all” approach. The length of programme should be individual to the needs of the subject matter, capabilities of the learner, and the environment in which it is being delivered.

  3. For some of my apprenticeship candidates 12 month is okay, however what about APL on the framework such as key skills? This will be very hard stretching the apprenticeship for 52 weeks. Also another argument would be, what is the candidate is only on a one year contract? By the time induction has taken place, registration and not forgetting if you have a partnership contract and you have to wait for them to process paper work and registration, which can take up to 6 weeks and assessment cannot take place prior to registration, therefore 52 weeks would not be an acceptable amount of time to allow the candidate to complete the apprenticeship.

  4. I agree with Dan, it’s far more important to weed out the poor providers at all levels and concentrate on positive outcomes i.e. Employment. Most responsible providers will ensure that all learners aquire the full skills and knowledge relevant to the framework aimed for and in the timescale judged at initial assessment by experienced tutoring staff.
    Having said that anything less than 8 months must be questionable unless fully evidenced by APL. The key is the quality of work experience supporting learning, and as most of us are aware it is an incorrect comparison between WBL and FE

  5. I agree with Chelle.
    A – C Grade GSCE’s for this age group can exempt Keyskills totally and in most cases do, so how can 12 month time frames be implimented when these vital elements may or may not be required.
    I am a firm believe that these get rich quick, minimal quality, maximum delivery providers should be made examples of. If these providers are running 12 week Apprenticeships and there are no job outcomes for anyone, why have SFA and NAS let them continue to operate. These providers should be targeted and the efforts should be put in place to expose them as oppose to implimenting a change that disadvantages quality providers. We should have the flexibilty to cater programmes to the needs of the Apprentice and there employers, which in turn is what QCF was designed to do, so why is this provision so different !!!