The more things change…

By NCFE Policy Leader Andrew Gladstone-Heighton

It has been another month, and accordingly we have seen further changes to the apprenticeship funding and planning space. As we have updated you previously, the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) is changing the number of apprenticeship funding bands they use.

The IfA has now provided further clarity on the ongoing review of the apprenticeship funding bands announced back in May.

They state that ‘Following the introduction of the 30 funding band structure, the Department for Education (DfE) has asked the IfA to review the funding bands of 31 apprenticeship standards’, of these, ‘the first recommendations will be provided to Ministers at the end of August.’

We are hoping that these changes will be published soon after, with (as a reminder) the IfA stating that:

  • Where funding bands increase, changes will be applied as soon as possible for all new starts on that standard (in line with scheduled updates to the apprenticeships system).
  • Where funding bands decrease, the DfE will provide 2 months’ notice before funding bands change for new starts on that standard.

We hope to share more information as soon as it is released near the end of August.

There have also been changes to the plan for non-levy paying employers. In an update from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), they have detailed that: 

We had planned that all employers would be able to use the apprenticeship service to access apprenticeship funding from April 2019.

…To ensure a more gradual transition, we will extend current contracts for training providers delivering training for employers that do not pay the apprenticeship levy for 12 months, from April 2019 to March 2020’

This is due to the ESFA listening to feedback from providers, and introducing future changes in ‘a gradual, well-managed way’.

The ESFA has set out that they will work closely with employers and training providers to plan what this gradual transition should look like.

Further details will be provided in autumn, including ‘what this will mean for providers with existing contracts and plans to develop the apprenticeship service for all employers’.

We will keep you updated as soon as we hear anything more about this. We can expect this environment of constant change to continue well into autumn, and perhaps beyond before we have a ‘steady state’ apprenticeship funding system.