Coronavirus: training providers facing huge drops in apprentice numbers


Training providers are facing huge drops in apprentice numbers as settings start to close en masse and new apprentices stay away.

While existing apprenticeships are continuing to operate, restrictions necessitated by the Coronavirus mean training providers facing the prospect of months without new income because they are unable to sign up new starts.

Chris Baker, finance director at childcare specialists Crackerjack Training, said, ‘We will be getting apprenticeship income for those remaining on the programme, but the big thing that is really going to affect us is recruitment – if we are not replacing apprentices that are finishing our income is going to be dropping month by month.

‘We had two big marketing events in March and April we have had to cancel. Obviously if we don’t start anybody for two to three months we are going to get a big drop in finances, but we still have to pay business rates and other operating costs.’

He has had put four members of client-facing staff on furlough leave while the rest of the 25-strong team is mostly working remotely, he added.

Guidance released this week said that apprenticeship training providers will not be offered any tailored funding support, but will continue to be paid retrospectively for the training they have delivered, despite calls for upfront funding to stop them from going out of business.

The guidance states Government policy ‘does not allow payment for services in advance of delivery'.

The AELP has reacted with fury, saying the government isn’t serious about apprenticeships and warning this will result in ‘many independent training providers going out of business over the next three months'.

Training providers are invited instead to apply for the chancellor’s business support package, which includes paying 80 per cent of the wages of furloughed employees.

Teaching remotely

The government is encouraging employers, and training and assessment providers, to make use of distance-learning tools and encouraging end-point assessments to be done remotely.

Mr Baker said that many of their apprentices were still in on-the-job training because many settings were open for key workers’ children, though more nurseries were starting to close this week.

The 20 per cent off-the-job training portion of the programme was being done online and with help from assessors working remotely.

The guidance also says apprentices who are deemed ready for assessment, and cannot be assessed due to COVID-19 related issues, will be able to have their end point assessment rescheduled.

This is unlikely to affect the childcare sector in the short term as the Level 3 Early Years Educator standard wasn’t approved until April 2019, meaning many apprentices won’t be ready for their end point assessment until the summer.

T-Levels

T-Levels are currently set to be rolled out as normal, though the T-Level assessment organisations, which include CACHE (part of NCFE), have written to the education secretary Gavin Williamson calling for a 12-month delay.

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