25 Oct 2016, Jo Parkes
The final amount of Government funding available for early years apprentices is capped at £2,500 for Level 3 and £2,000 for Level 2.
Yet the cost of training a childcare apprentice has been calculated to be around £8,000, with £7,426 currently available for a 16-18 year old Level 2 apprentice in a deprived area, including top-ups.
There has however been a u-turn on proposals to scrap the supplement for less well-off trainees, with providers to receive an extra £600 for training an apprentice living in the top 10 per cent of deprived areas.
And education secretary Justine Greening today announced an additional 20 per cent cash boost for training providers of 16- to 18- year-olds, over what was proposed in the consultation.
For early years apprenticeships this amounts to up to just an extra £500 to add to the £1,000 incentive (or top-up) originally planned. The separate £1,000 incentive for employers remains in place.
The extra cash however is only a transitional measure. The Government envisages 'reducing this uplift as more apprenticeship starts are on new apprenticeship standards'.
Ross Midgley, of PBD Early Years Training, said, 'The extra 16- to 18- year-old money is welcome but still leads to massive funding reductions in this age group – instead of being halved, the amount payable for a 16-18 year old in inner London will now be cut by about a third.
'The real problem is that the funding bands are too low.'
Mr Midgley added, 'I'm still fearful that the insistence on cash contributions from employers for 19+ apprentices will deter many from going this route.
'I think we will see a big increase in student loans and another major dent in the Government’s apprenticeship target.'
Elsewhere, the levels have been broadly welcomed as a climb down.
Today's announcement encompasses both apprenticeship frameworks and the standards which will replace them.
Despite being submitted last November, the early years apprenticeship standard at Level 3 remains unready for use because of a disagreement between the Government and employers over GCSEs.
The Government, which wants to create 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020, is trying to simplify the funding system, which uses a range of funding rates for apprenticeships depending on the sector and the age and location of apprentices.
Last month, Ms Greening was grilled by the Education Select Commmittee about the proposed reforms unveiled by the Skills Funding Agency.
She was asked by MPs whether she shared the ‘very serious concerns’ and whether the potential impact on younger trainees ‘fit into her social mobility ambitions’.
Ms Greening responded that the the government was looking ‘really carefully’ at the consultation responses, adding, 'We need to try and make sure we get it right.'
Apprenticeship and skills minister Robert Halfon was urged in a letter signed by 54 Labour MPs, to halt the ‘devastating’ cuts.
Gordon Marsden MP, Labour’s shadow minister for apprenticeships, welcomed the 'major U-turn' on the original proposals which, 'would have disadvantaged tens of thousands of 16-18 year old young people, colleges and providers'.
Mr Marsden added, 'However, there still remain big question marks over the Government’s apprenticeship targets and policies, and we need to see the detail on transitional funding for disadvantaged areas.
'Labour will continue pressing them strongly for urgent answers on the digital service, the Institute for Apprenticeships, resources and capacity.'
Speaking about today's announcement, Ms Greening said, ‘These changes will ensure apprenticeships are high quality, meet the needs of employers and provide opportunities for millions more people.
‘After extensive discussions with employers and training providers we are today publishing the final funding policy for May 2017 onwards and details of the new register of apprenticeship training providers.
‘The adjustments we have made to the funding policy since our proposals in August will help ensure that the reforms benefit more employers, providers and apprentices.
Key features of the funding policy according to today's announcement are:
Apprenticeship levy (which applies to large employers) changes include:
For the full range of documents click here
Bullet points amended 27th November 2016