Friday, 8 November 2013

Segmenting all age apprenticeships

 by Mark Corney

The key lesson to emerge from the consultation on the funding reform of apprenticeships in England which closed on October 1st is the need to segment them by age.*

Use of the catch-all term ‘apprenticeships’ clouds rather than clarifies the decisions to be taken in the build-up to the Autumn Statement on Wednesday, December 4th.

The funding consultation asked the apprenticeship sector to consider the introduction of mandatory employer cash contributions of 30%, as well three options for distributing public funding, namely direct employer contracting, reimbursement through PAYE and retention of the provider system. But a considered assessment of these propositions really requires a segmenting of apprenticeships by age.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Earn or learn: choices for 18-24 year olds

by Mark Corney

Way back in December 2011, the Coalition Government published a report entitled Building Engagement, Building Futures: Our Strategy to Maximise the Participation of 16-24 Year Olds in Education, Training and Work. A mouthful, perhaps, but the report analyses the participation question in an extremely helpful way.

The starting point is participation up to age 16. Then the focus is on full participation by 16 and 17 year olds, taking into account the increase in the participation age to the 18th birthday from September 2015. And then participation by 18-24 year olds is discussed quite separately.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Apprenticeship Funding Fever

by Mark Corney

The debate on apprenticeship funding is reaching fever pitch. The Coalition consultation* closes in less than two weeks, the Liberal Democrats** and Labour*** have set out their stalls and the Conservatives will do the same at the end of the month.

In recent days, the debate on the Coalition consultation has shifted away from adult apprenticeships to 16-18 apprenticeships. Mandatory employer cash contributions to adult apprenticeships seem to be a done-deal and PAYE looks the favoured model for distributing public funding.

Less clear, however, is whether 16-18 apprenticeships will be partially funded with mandatory cash contributions, partially funded with voluntary cash contributions or fully funded as now. There is then the issue about whether the public subsidy – at whatever level – is distributed through the PAYE system.

The Liberal Democrats, as distinct from the Coalition, support distributing the public subsidy for adult apprenticeships to employers through the PAYE system, though they make no mention of mandatory cash contributions. But the party seems content with the present system of fully funded 16-18 apprenticeships allocated to providers.

Labour, on the other hand, has rejected devolving apprenticeship funding to each employer, use of the PAYE system and mandatory cash contributions. Instead, the party proposes to devolve the £1.5bn youth and adult apprenticeship budget to employers on a collective basis to Industrial Partnerships and reformed Sector Skills Councils.  

Monday, 9 September 2013

Mandatory Cash Contributions to 16-18 Apprenticeships

In advance of the Campaign for Learning's seminar on the Government's current consultation reform for Apprenticeships, 19th September, Mark Corney asks whether the funding model for 16-18 apprenticeships will include mandatory cash contributions from employers.

Mandatory cash contributions by employers is a common element of the Direct Employer Payment Model, the PAYE Employer Payment Model and the Provider Payment Model outlined in the apprenticeship funding consultation.*

But the critical question is whether employer cash contributions are required as a pre-condition for the release of public funding for 16-18 apprenticeships as well as adult apprenticeships.

The case for concluding that the Coalition Government is indeed considering the proposition of mandatory employer cash contributions to 16-18 apprenticeships is compelling.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Apprenticeship Funding Reform: The Big Issues

In advance of the Campaign for Learning's seminar on 19th September, Mark Corney assesses the Government's current consultation on funding reform for Apprenticeships in England and sets out the issues.

Money will ultimately determine the outcome of the apprenticeship funding consultation.* Who pays, how much they will pay and who controls the purse strings are the questions that matter. 

Getting the financial incentives wrong in small scale pilots is permissible. Getting them wrong in large mainstream programmes such as apprenticeships is not an option. 

The Coalition Government published its response to the Richard Review in the Spring. Yet the ministerial foreword to consultation paper published in July tellingly states “one crucial aspect of this reform agenda was deliberately not addressed – funding.”

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Saving BIS a billion

Potential options for savings from Higher Education and Adult FE
Planned revenue spending by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in 2014/15 is £13.8bn. If the Treasury and BIS agree on savings of 8% in 2015/16, the Spending Revenue on the 26th June would confirm savings of £1.1bn.
The rumour in the FE sector is that the entire saving will be made from the adult FE budget. Meanwhile, the HE sector has convinced itself that universities will bear the brunt of the entire savings through cuts in HEFCE funding and downward pressure on fees because of competition.

The truth is that neither of the sectors will face the full £1.1bn of cuts.  A package of savings across both adult FE and HE is the most likely outcome.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Adult Apprenticeships: Funding the User

by Mark Corney

The signs are that the Coalition Government is intent on routing public funding for adult apprenticeships through the user rather than the provider.

The question Whitehall must resolve in Spending Review 2013, due to be published on the 26th June is whether the user is defined as the individual or the employer.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Why no 18-24 traineeships?

by Mark Corney

One by one representative bodies have proclaimed surprise and disappointment at the decision by the Coalition to restrict ‘traineeships’ primarily to 16-18 year olds and delay them for 18-24 year olds.

Economists would point out that they have been surprised because they have focused on the wrong variable.

The delay is not to do with the budget for delivering 18-24 traineeships paid to providers and funded by BIS but the cost of benefits trainees will receive paid by DWP. The failure of the framework document* to have ‘DWP’ on the front cover gives the game away.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Leading on LEPs and Adult FE

by Mark Corney

Both the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Department for Communities and Local Government have joint responsibility for network of 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

The ‘Business, Innovation and Skills’ select committee of the House of Commons has recently proposed that BIS should be the lead department for LEPs. In addition, the select committee supports the idea of a single-pot devolved to LEPs and core cities and expects the Government to set out its scope and size in the formal response to the report.*

Assigning to BIS lead-department status for LEPs would be an intriguing move. The same department is also responsible for the £1.8bn adult further education budget.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Young people: A week of stories

by Mark Corney 

The TechBacc Divide

The Department for Education has launched the new TechBacc. The policy rationale is to give vocational education the high status it deserves. The political rationale is to offer a rival to Labour's TechBacc.

Under the Coalition Government, the TechBacc is a measure rather than a qualification, bringing together a Level 3 core Maths qualification alongside a high quality Level 3 vocational qualification and an extended project.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Confused by the 'new norm'

by Mark Corney 

The Coalition wants 'apprenticeships or university to become the new norm for young people leaving school'. Apart from the reference to a 'new norm' this statement of education and skills policy is little different to that of the last Labour Government. 

The problem is that this formulation of policy is as confusing today as it was then. To grasp the confusion it is best to start at the end on this occasion and 'young people and leaving school' are uncomfortable bedfellows. 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The 'RPA' Challenge

by Mark Corney

Three factors are conspiring to make the policy of raising the participation age (RPA) extremely challenging for the Coalition Government.
Late last month, there was confirmation that the number of 16 and 17 year olds in England is 56,000 higher than previously expected. In addition, 16-19 spending on participation in education and training by the Department for Education unlike 5-16 education will not be protected as part of Spending Review 2013. And 2015/16 is the first year when cuts to the 16-19 budget and the RPA is increased to the 18th birthday coincide.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Feeding poor kids at college

by Mark Corney

An increasingly well-known anomaly in post-16 legislation is that free meals are available to students from poor families attending schools but not colleges. Come from a poor family and attend a school sixth form, academy or university technology college and the state will feed you. Go to a sixth form college, general FE college or specialist college and you will go hungry.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Living off ‘Traineeships’

by Mark Corney

As the ‘education and skills’ world joins the Coalition in a discussion over the development of Traineeships* there a real danger it will miss the key issue which has to be decided upon.

The single sentence paragraph, number nine, states ‘we want to consider a range of options for supporting young people on Traineeships financially, such as wages or allowances, and the fit with the benefit system’.

It is the answer to the question ‘what will trainees live off?’ which will shape the response to the formal questions in the discussion paper regarding the activities, curriculum content, the funding of provision and even the age range of traineeships.