Temporary funding uplifts for apprenticeships where costs have significantly increased have been delayed.
Government chiefs promised more information on how to apply for the short-term boosts would be released by mid-November, with bids set to open by the end of the month.
However, the Department for Education and Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education have been silent on this process since it was announced at the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) conference on November 1.
The DfE has now told FE Week that its officials will “provide further information in December”. The department gave no indication as to whether the application process would launch at this point.
An IfATE spokesperson added: “We understand the challenge posed to the sector by the increase in the cost of living and we are working closely with the DfE on this issue. We expect to publish updated guidance as soon as possible.”
FE Week understands that the change in the DfE’s ministerial team and the chancellor’s autumn statement has slowed down development of the process.
Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Jane Hickie said her members will be frustrated by the delay in the face of spiralling inflation.
She told FE Week: “Unfortunately, the initial timelines announced at our autumn conference were too ambitious, and it looks like this important process will now take longer than originally planned.
“However, the intent is still there for some kind of intervention which is critically needed.”
The DfE’s director of apprenticeships, Peter Mucklow, told AELP’s autumn conference that the temporary funding uplifts would only be signed off for apprenticeship standards in the hardest hit sectors.
Mucklow said: “Our intention is that from later this month, employers and trailblazers will be able to apply for a temporary increase in funding for individual standards, where they can present conclusive evidence that costs of delivery have been substantially impacted.”
The AELP published research recently which showed funding for current apprenticeship standards was not meeting the true cost of delivery in sectors such as catering and hospitality, transport and logistics, care, construction, and engineering and manufacturing.
It is not yet clear what will constitute “substantial impact” or how much funding is being made available to deliver the uplift.
Mucklow said it was “more appropriate and better value for money for the taxpayer” to take an approach to supporting standards which will be more impacted rather than increasing funding for all standards across the board.
IfATE chief executive Jennifer Coupland told AELP’s conference that she hopes the temporary funding uplifts can be reviewed and approved within a month of the application being received when the process is up and running.