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Monday, 27 June 2016 22:58

Minister for Skills, Nick Boles, ‘A river of investment.’ Trailblazers, levy and delivery,

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Skills Minister Nick Boles speaking at AELP 2016 Skills Minister Nick Boles speaking at AELP 2016

IOC were in West London for the AELP National Conference, talking education and funding for trailblazer, levy and employer.

Martin Dunford, chair of AELP had a mouth-watering line-up of ministers and shadow ministers to give the opposite opinion. 800 AELP members, wall-to-wall training providers, 640 attending from every sector stacked to the rafters in the Hammersmith West London Novotel. Talk of rivers of money and a cold vote for the new Chartered Institute of Further Education.

Positive words from Minister Nick Boles,

I understand change is going on and it generates uncertainty. It is absolutely clear there is a fruitful river for you to fish in. There is a great deal more money going into apprenticeships, an expanding river of opportunity. You are in a growth business, every area of the country will need to thrive in their environment.

 

 

Minister for employment Priti Patel was first casualty to report a no-show. Jim Caley stood in to briefly outline policy.

Martin Dunford,

Keep calm, coping with change is what this sector does best. 76% of apprentices are delivered by private providers. Co-investment is key to employers offering apprenticeships, there are too many LEPS not involving providers in strategy for education.

The new AELP chief exec, Mark Dawe in a wild purple tie took questions.

The provider world has always said, ‘give us the money and we will provide training’ – The world did not stop on Friday, the party was elected to deliver three million apprentices. Degree apprentices is a key area for me, I am concerned they will not be ready in time for employers.

Shadow minster for skills Gordon Marsden did arrive after an extended break.

The implications of the referendum will force a budget before the end of year. This will be an option to vary levy, levy is negotiable, it could be increased, I am aware of nervousness but it is adjustable. Crucial is what happens to ESF and the timetable of that change, the timescales of deliver to LEPs. 725 million to be negotiated.

The minister's phone rang, pause, ‘It’s not Jeremy’ the audience applauded loudly to the minister's candour.

Traineeship figures show less than 1 in 10 traineeships move to apprenticeship. It’s the right concept but ministers have failed to promote it. We are in danger of repeating YTS. Levy, I am concerned where the money tree is to do it. I don’t see money for levy, there are many issues around levy & none levy, large companies and SMEs. The outlook is rocky but please do everything you can to engage with apprenticeships.

One question before time runs out focused level 2 apprenticeships, the shadow minister answered, ‘66% of apprenticeships are at level 2, there is a strong argument to recognise level 2 and this provides progression.’

Minister for skills Nick Boles,

I regret David Cameron’s resignation. Traditional crafts, apprenticeships, I think perceptions have changed, critically young people & employer perceptions have changed. Not just lower level apprenticeships but also degree apprenticeships leading to management. This will be one of David Cameron’s legacies. The party is passionate about apprenticeships, Boris Johnson is passionate about apprenticeships. My 1st key point is apprenticeships are a key to success. My 2nd key point is the need to invest in workforce development and even more so with the referendum vote. We must have a highly skilled and flexible workforce. We planned to publish funding detail for levy in the next few days but this will need to slip back a minor period. The chancellor has made it clear there is no need for an emergency budget.  Area reviews will continue to go ahead, they have been going surprisingly well. We will be going ahead to publish a skills plan. I understand change is going on and it generates uncertainty. It is absolutely clear there is a fruitful river for you to fish in. There is a great deal more money going into apprenticeships, an expanding river of opportunity. You are in a growth business, every area of the country will need to thrive in their environment.

Chartership, Lord Lingfield,

The fledgling new Chartered Institute grew from a desire to create something enduring to support FE sector. A royal charter body is independent, we already have an embryonic board, they are all drawn from FE. We shall go beyond OFSTED with peer group reviews to identify high quality training, it will be large or small. We are not competing with AELP or AOC, we will be independent.

During the Q&A Lord Lingfield was pressed for costs, 3,000 enrolment and 5000 pounds a year membership.

AELP set an interactive question to the floor to the 640 delegates, a shocking 54% voted not interested in the Institute.

AELP CEO Mark Dawe chaired a theme section on apprenticeship reform. Employer, Martha Jennings, Sky TV showcased their relationship with Outsource training. During the session Sue Husband spoke for the SFA.I am meeting many HR directors’ Keith Smith BIS, ‘Short term we are progressing with what we have got, there will be reflection during summer for a communication in the autumn. We are working on feedback from employers on the digital account. The new system will be England specific. Contracting will be matched into the fiscal year from 2017. AELP Mark Dawe, ‘It’s the none levy payer who is important.’ The floor supported with an instant applause and the discussion shifted to an area with few formal answers.

AOC chief, Martin Doel was fresh out of a principal's policy forum to take one of the end AELP slots. ‘ There will be no clarity before September, autumn spending document will deliver the messages. Don’t be destracted, levy is safe.’

A last group workshop took place across eleven subject choices before Mark Dawe was back on the floor to wrap up the day. ‘ Level playing field is about fair competition. In the new levy world I see  a lot of sub contracting, it needs to be transparent. Today at the AELP National conference we have been given a great deal of reassurance by the minister Nick Boles.’

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