How we use Cookies

Birmingham colleges snubbed in new apprenticeship push

Trio of colleges fail to make new key government register which will connect employers with training providers running schemes for apprentices

Pic: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

A trio of colleges in Birmingham have failed to make the Government’s new register of organisations which will offer apprenticeship training.

The Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers has been published by the Department for Education and Skills Finding Agency and lists more than 1,700 institutions and private companies.

The aim is to ensure trainers are providing courses with the needs of apprentices and businesses in mind but notable absences from the list include Birmingham Metropolitan College (BMet), South & City College Birmingham and Solihull College.

Bournville College, which is due to complete its merger with South & City College this year, received an 'inadequate' rating for its apprenticeship training at its last Ofsted inspection in September, making it ineligible to apply for the register.

The four colleges combined are currently delivering almost £12 million worth of apprenticeships between them, according to reports.

BMet Principal Andrew Cleaves said: "(We) put forward a solid proposal to the Skills Funding Agency (and) we are very surprised and disappointed by the outcome.

"Having grown significantly this past year, we deliver around £5 million of apprenticeship provision in Birmingham and the Black Country, with results above the national average and were rated 'good' for our apprenticeship delivery by Ofsted in our recent inspection.

"We are now working with the Skills Funding Agency to see how we can address things and are confident that this will reach a positive conclusion over the coming weeks."

BMet is among the colleges which failed to make the register
BMet is among the colleges which failed to make the register

A statement from South & City College said: "We were very shocked to discover the application had been unsuccessful, given our grade 2 (good) Ofsted report and excellent track record of delivering apprenticeships.

"We are keen to understand why this was the case and have already sought feedback. It is our attention to reapply at the next possible opportunity."

A Solihull College spokesman said: "The college is indeed planning to reapply and we hope the situation is resolved very quickly."

All three declined to answer whether this would result in any job losses.

Elsewhere, Positive Outcomes, a Derbyshire-based private training provider operating in Birmingham, also failed to make the list and has since gone into administration with all of its staff, said to be around 200 people, losing their jobs.

Acacia Training, a Stoke-based private provider working with around 200 students in Birmingham, said the potential impact of the register was "huge" and it has written to the Skills Funding Agency asking why it failed to make the list when it has a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted.

"Unless something is done to allow us access to the Invitation to Tender we, along with many other providers, will surely have to cease trading as our whole business is really the delivery of apprenticeships," said Acacia team leader and assessor Anne-Marie Morris.

South & City College says it intends to reapply to join the register
South & City College says it intends to reapply to join the register

A total of 1,708 providers from 2,327 applicants made the register, including the University of Birmingham and University College Birmingham and several NHS trusts, but unsuccessful colleges and private providers will still be able to re-apply.

The Government said all providers on the register had been through a rigorous assessment process but there are claims training providers with 'inadequate' Ofsted ratings or no experience made the list.

The Government is making wider reforms with the aim of ensuring apprenticeships are better structured and more clearly aligned to the needs of employers.

This includes a new levy commencing on April 6 which will require employers with a wage bill of over £3 million a year to pay 0.5 per cent of this into investing in apprenticeships.

Levy-paying employers will be able to choose their apprenticeship training delivery from the newly published register for all apprentices starting their programmes from May 2017.

Apprenticeships Minister Robert Halfon said: "Giving employers control over their apprenticeships needs and funding is an essential feature of our plan....our new register will mean that only organisations that have passed our quality assurance can deliver apprenticeships."

Comments

Journalists

Graeme Brown
Editor (Agenda and Business)
Enda Mullen
Business Reporter
Tamlyn Jones
Business Reporter
Neil Elkes
Local Government Correspondent
Emma McKinney
Education Correspondent
Ben Hurst
News Editor
Jonathan Walker
Political Editor