Employers attack plan to cut management apprenticeship funding

Employers are demanding that the government rejects proposals to cut funding of management apprenticeships.

Independent public body the Institute of Apprenticeships, which is sponsored by the Department of Education, has advised ministers to reduce funding of the chartered manager degree apprenticeship from £27,000 to £22,000 per person; the operations manager apprenticeship from £9,000 to £7,000 and the team leader apprenticeship from £5,000 to £4,500.

Leadership development body the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) described the review that led to the proposals as “deeply flawed” and stated that evidence submitted by employers and providers to the review suggested that such cuts would “irrevocably damage the quality, reputation and volume of management apprenticeships”.

According to its website, the Institute of Apprenticeship’s remit is to oversee the development of high quality apprenticeships and ensure “they are as respected as highly as other education routes”.

More than 150 employers have signed an appeal to ministers to reject the plans.

Anne Thomas, education director at Serco, and one of the employer chairs of the management and leadership trailblazer group, says: “At Serco we’ve invested significantly in building our apprenticeship programmes and have been hugely supportive of the government’s apprenticeship agenda.

“However, these cuts would clearly undermine our future ability to use our levy on the management skills we need for our future business growth. It also frustrates the hard work of the employer trailblazer group which has invested significant time and resources into developing high quality apprenticeships which will no longer be funded as promised.”

The employer trailblazer group said the Institute of Apprenticeship’s review was not a fair and transparent process and had set unrealistic deadlines, provided incorrect briefing documents and irrelevant information. It also said the review had not considered the economic and social impact of the programmes. It is feared that some universities and providers will wind up their apprenticeship schemes in response.

Services and technology giant Thales UK warned that it had started “to see funding cuts across several of the apprenticeships that we offer including the chartered manager programme” and that apprenticeship providers had confirmed that an employer top-up could be required to deliver the same quality of provision under the reduced funding bands.

It stated: “This may not be viable for us and subsequently we would need to reconsider offering these programmes. We are incredibly supportive of apprenticeships and are working hard to maximise the levy and support the government’s agenda, but there comes a point where the costs outweigh the benefits.”

Petra Wilton, director of strategy at the CMI said: “We simply can’t see why government is shooting one of its most successful policies in the foot. As the overwhelming outcry from employers demonstrates, it makes so little sense. Especially at a time when so many employers are struggling to recruit the highly skilled managers and leaders needed to drive up business growth and employee engagement amid the challenges of Brexit.”

However, Wilton added that she hoped ministers, who had been “so keen to showcase the early success of these programmes and the new management apprentices”, would return from recess and reject this “ridiculous decision.”

A spokesperson for the Institute for Apprenticeships emphasised that the employer groups, called trailblazers, could appeal against the cuts. She told Personnel Today: “We have recently contacted some trailblazers to tell them our recommendations following the funding band review.

“The secretary of state for education takes the final decision on all funding bands. Before we make our recommendations to the Department for Education, trailblazers have 10 working days to submit an appeal to the Institute on procedural grounds.

“We encourage all our stakeholders to engage with us about any concerns regarding the review process.”

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