The trumpeted announcement some weeks ago about the launch of a larger Traineeship Programme, coupled with the Kick-start Programme certainly caused me concern about the impact on the Apprenticeship programme as we were approaching peak season for Apprenticeship recruitment.
Noise from our Promote-ed network indicates that whilst Apprenticeship starts remain significantly down compared with previous years, there are some positive signs in terms of recruitment – particularly with SME’s who continue to drive their businesses and support Apprenticeship starts and opportunities. Not a surprise to us who have maintained for years that the lifeblood of Apprenticeship commitment rests with the SME community, not those ‘feast and famine’ large employers we see every day lauding growth and massive opportunity and a week later announcing thousands of redundancies.
Congratulations to the providers, mainly those in the private sector who during the summer months have dug in and driven sales and starts, championing the opportunities for young people.
Delays in the launch of both the Traineeship Programme – we still haven’t seen the tender so we won’t be seeing many starts this side of November! And the Kick Start programme launched today with first starts to be from November also means there is a significant opportunity to drive Apprenticeships in the next 10 weeks, with the increased incentive for employers also introduced.
The Chancellor when announcing the importance of Skills to the revitalisation of the economy and thus Traineeships and Kick-start – (Boris’s guarantee of an Apprenticeship seems to have disappeared into the mist as Autumn descends) did so at the same time as announcing the Dine Out to Help Out Campaign.
I find it astonishing that one Government department can launch and distribute over £500m of support to the economy in less than three weeks, a scheme that seems to have got the money to where it needs to be but another Government department (DFE) still hasn’t been able to start the process of distributing £100m of Traineeship funding!
You would think there was no urgency to help young people, in particular to start on their career paths or is it just they don’t actually want to spend the money that has been allocated. The latter would be consistent with a department that year after year continues to tell providers there is no money available and then report major underspends at every year end to the Treasury.
Whilst the Permanent Secretary for the DFE has been made to walk the plank, probably into the warm Caribbean with his gold plated pension, it really is time for someone in Authority to take a hard look at how the money gets to the front line quickly and effectively to provide opportunities for Apprentices of all Ages who need it.
Maybe when the Education Committee and Mr Halfon has concluded with OFQUAL today, he might want to turn his attention to ESFA and how that organisation can be transformed to meet the needs of its clients – learners of all ages, employers and indeed providers.
So to all providers as you commence September, drive hard to deliver life changing opportunities for all potential Apprentices.