How we use Cookies

Reprieve for Birmingham colleges after apprenticeship snub

Trio of institutions can continue providing apprenticeship training after government performs u-turn over its controversial new register

Pic: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

A trio of colleges in Birmingham will be able to continue providing apprenticeship training after the Government performed a u-turn over its controversial new Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers.

Last month, we reported that Birmingham Metropolitan College, South & City College Birmingham and Solihull College had all failed to make the newly published register despite currently providing apprenticeship training.

But now the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has decided to suspend the current tender competition, meaning existing providers such as the Birmingham colleges can continue running training courses until December.

The register was set up with the aim of ensuring trainers were providing courses with the needs of apprentices and businesses in mind.

From May 1, 2017, any organisation which wanted to deliver apprenticeships had to be listed on this new register.

Courses are provided by both traditional post-16 colleges and private companies and failing to make the register led some to fear they would go bust if they failed to make it in a subsequent rounds of applications.

Positive Outcomes, a Derbyshire-based private training provider operating in Birmingham, was placed into administration after failing to make the list with around 200 job losses.

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.

However, there were reports in the aftermath of the publication of the register last month that some of those providers which did make it actually had 'inadequate' ratings while others had no experience of running courses at all.

BMet can now continue providing apprenticeship training
BMet can now continue providing apprenticeship training

A statement from ESFA said: "We have carefully considered the applications made in response to the recent procurement for apprenticeship training provision.

"This procurement was markedly oversubscribed, a sign of the significant level of interest from the training provider market in the apprenticeship reforms.

"In response, ESFA intends to pause the current competition (which) will allow us to review our approach to ensure we achieve the right balance between stability of supply and promoting competition and choice for employers."

"We will undertake further engagement with the market to clarify our approach (and) issue further guidance shortly."

The statement added that all existing contracts held by current providers would be extended until the end of 2017.

"Current providers with extended contracts will be able to undertake new starts on those contracts provided they are on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers," it added.

"This will not affect training provision for existing learners."

Andy Street, Conservative candidate in next month's mayoral election, said: "The decision by the skills minister to allow the Birmingham colleges to resubmit their bids is a welcome and positive step and I am pleased to have been able to convey the concerns of the colleges.

"Of course, they will need to make sure they are successful in the second round of bidding but I hope this will secure the apprenticeship provision at further education institutions in the city.

"Quite simply, this should not have happened in the first place. I am glad we have been able to reach a satisfactory resolution."

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