The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has called for much more integrated policies that put skills development and support for those who are unemployed at the centre of the pre-election policy debate.
Training providers continue to make effective links between programmes managed by DWP, DfE and BIS such as Work Programme, support for Troubled Families, Work Choice, traineeships and apprenticeships. The call at the AELP national conference today is for more integration, more flexibility and no more separate initiatives.
Employment minister, Esther McVey, and Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock, will be addressing the AELP conference today while Labour’s post-election plans for skills will be set out by Liam Byrne tomorrow.
Chaired by broadcaster and former political editor Cathy Newman, the conference will review a number of issues such as careers information for young people, the development of traineeships and apprenticeship reforms. AELP has made a number of recommendations that build on the success of the current apprenticeship programme and address the danger in the proposed reforms of ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’.
AELP calls on ministers to give employers a choice on how they wish to be funded for offering apprenticeships. This means businesses being able to retain existing arrangements where their chosen provider receives the government’s financial contribution towards the training instead of the employer.
Providers point out that the existing system has been responsible for apprenticeship starts doubling to more han 500,000 a year in less than a decade while programme completion rates have risen consistently during the same period.
AELP chief executive, Stewart Segal, said: “The conference is a great opportunity to hear the views of training providers and their employers about the impact of the apprenticeship changes. Many employers have expressed real concerns about some elements of the reforms and we hope this will be an opportunity to explore solutions. We have already recommended radical approaches which are based on giving employers real choices.”
The event will also hear from Graham Stuart, chairman of the Commons education select committee, on the real concerns about the quality of careers advice offered to pupils in England’s schools.
“As the economy begins to grow, we have to keep the focus on employment and skills. People with low skills need support to ensure they can be part of the drive for growth and traineeships and apprenticeships will be vital to delivering the higher skills we need to sustain that growth. Training providers will be a key part of that solution. Skills and employment providers engage with employers across the country on a daily basis and the AELP national conference will illustrate why we are in a position to put forward positive policy recommendations which will benefit both individuals and employers,” Segal concluded.