Over 152 employers, including key advocates for apprenticeships, plus more than 285 apprentices, have signed an appeal to reject plans from the Institute for Apprenticeship (IfA) to introduce huge cuts to funding bands for the most common management apprenticeships. The signatures were gathered in less than one week.
As FE News reports, the Trailblazer Group’s appeal will be presented to ministers at the Department for Education (DfE).
The government has already admitted that it will find it difficult to meet its target of 3m apprenticeships, though has stressed its commitment to focus on the creation and delivery of new, high quality programmes. Supporters feel the cuts proposed by the IfA will completely undermine the quality and early employer investment in the apprenticeships.
After a funding assessment process that has been labelled as ‘deeply flawed,’ the IfA suggested the following cuts:
- Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship – from £27,000 to £22,000
- Operations Manager Apprenticeship (Level 5) – from £9,000 to £7,000
- Team Leader Apprenticeship (Level 3) – from £5,000 to £4,500
The evidence put forward by employers and providers outlines that the cuts would cause irrevocable damage to the quality, reputation and volume of management apprenticeships. Numerous universities and reputable providers will leave the market, with intensive programmes that support young people and foster social mobility impacted the most.
The Trailblazer Group is directly appealing the IfA’s decision based on its belief that it was not a fair and transparent process, with unfeasible deadlines, incorrect briefing documents and irrelevant information included.
Importantly, considering that ‘value for money’ was a key criteria for the review, employers are worried the review did not take into account the economic and social impact of the programmes, and are now calling for a detailed impact evaluation to showcase the value and benefits delivered to the economy.
Anne Thomas, education director at Serco, said her company has invested heavily in building apprenticeship programmes and is already seeing the benefits.
She continued: “However, these cuts would clearly undermine our future ability to use our Levy on the management skills we need for our future business growth. It also frustrates the hard work of the employer trailblazer group which has invested significant time and resources into developing high quality apprenticeships which will no longer be funded as promised.”
There is no denying that reducing funding for these programmes – which are proving to have benefits for both employers and apprentices, will be entirely counterintuitive.