Supporters of the Save our Apprenticeships campaign meeting at the Houses of Parliament

College Gets Behind National Save Our Apprenticeships Campaign

Stratford-upon-Avon College has been fighting to nullify the impact of national proposed changes to apprenticeship funding at a national event held at the Houses of Parliament.

Stevie Edmund-Jones, Head of Employer Engagement at the College, attended FE Week’s launch of the Save our Apprenticeships Campaign on Wednesday 14 September. The event was held in response to the latest update on apprenticeship funding due to be implemented from April 2017.

Hosted by Shadow Minister for FE and HE Gordon Marsden and chaired by FE Week, the event panel was manned by Member of Parliament for Tottenham David Lammy MP, current Shadow Minister (Defence) Kate Hollern MP, and Minister of State for Education Robert Halfon. Mr Lammy has recently sent a letter with over 50 MP signatures to the government to protest these funding rate cuts.

Apprenticeship providers across the county are concerned the proposed changes to the funding system, whilst bringing welcome simplification, could result in severe consequences for the government’s overarching plan to reach a target of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020. As funding levels will be dependent on the particular training programme, it is feared certain apprenticeship programmes, such as the College’s highly popular Professional Cookery and Food and Beverage, will lose over 50% of their funding.

Moreover, opportunities for younger, less experienced apprenticeship applicants will potentially be hit hardest; the present system (whereby more money is given to an apprenticeship provider for a 16 – 18-year-old apprentice, since they require more time and training to prepare them for full-time employment) is to be replaced in April 2017 with flat rate funding, set initially at the current lower 19 – 24 rate, which many believe will prove challenging to ensuring high quality training provision.

Mr Lammy believes the impact to areas of his local community will be huge and, as a consequence, colleges and training providers will not be able to deliver basic qualifications. The new funding structure will additionally remove a subsidy for apprenticeship training in deprived areas.

Ms Edmund–Jones was personally invited to the event to raise these concerns with the government and ensure that young people have the opportunity to train under the apprenticeship programmes that best suit their learning needs.

She said “Stratford-upon-Avon College are passionate about good quality training which meets the needs of our local community, giving young people the best possible start in the world of work. However, to maintain this passion under the proposed funding streams, we must look closely at the impact this will have and lobby the government to reconsider these proposed changes to funding. By attending the FE Week ‘Save our Apprenticeships’ campaign, we are helping to get Stratford College’s voice heard.”

The pressure to confront the changes and prepare to minimise their impact is now on. Everyone in attendance was in agreement that this serious nationwide challenge must be planned for accordingly and all providers must seriously look at how they provide the delivery of their apprenticeships.