Minister promises ‘significant funding’ in ‘coming year’ for SME apprenticeships, claims AELP - FE Week

New skills minister Gillian Keegan has pledged “significant funding” for additional small business apprenticeships in the “coming year”, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers has claimed.

It comes a day after the Treasury confirmed to FE Week that Rishi Sunak’s budget did not include any new cash for apprenticeships despite the accompanying red book document stating that “government will ensure that sufficient funding is made available in 2020-21”.

AELP chief executive Mark Dawe says he has since met with officials in both the Treasury and Department for Education, and they have promised that fresh funding is coming.

“Immediately after the budget, AELP had confirmed in person by the Treasury, the apprenticeships and skills minister and senior DfE officials that there will be significant funding for additional SMEs’ apprenticeships for the coming year and in the spending review,” his newsletter to members said today.

“We have to trust that this is the case given where I have got the commitment from and, therefore, celebrate that AELP’s call for support for SMEs has been listened to and is one of the few new announcements of extra money in the skills system.

“I have agreed to meet with the Treasury again in the near future to further discuss this and other matters.”

Dawe added: “Having had almost an hour and a half with the minister today, what I can confirm is she is a massive champion for worked based learning, apprenticeships and the range of work that the ITPs do, as long as it is quality and demonstrates benefit to the learner and employer.

“But we have to be robust, demonstrate the quality of what we do at all levels and in all sectors.”

No figures for how much this extra funding will total have been revealed so far.

Both the DfE and Treasury have told FE Week that no decisions on the spending review have been made yet.

The AELP has repeatedly warned that levy shortages meant small to medium enterprises were being cut out of apprenticeship funding.

In January, new boss of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, Jennifer Coupland, called for an additional £750 million to prop-up small business apprenticeships.

When making her plea she said the levy has led to small businesses cutting their training by ten per cent, while levy-payers have increased theirs by 20 per cent.

She added that the £750 million would cover the cost for about 85,000 apprenticeships which non-levy payers cannot fund.

New DfE data released today found that small and medium sized employers, those with fewer than 250 staff fell over 100,000 (42 per cent reduction), compared to a rise of over 16,000 for large employers (8 per cent rise).

The IfATE first projected that the apprenticeships budget would soon be overspent in 2018. The National Audit Office has since also warned that current funding for apprenticeships is unsustainable.

By Billy Camden - https://feweek.co.uk/2020/03/12/minister-promises-significant-funding-i…