The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has released its new rules governing funding for apprenticeships for 2022-23. Here are a few of the biggest changes for employers and providers to be aware of:
Under the old system, apprentices who took a break of more than 30 days were automatically classed as a ‘non-achieving leaver’. This made it difficult for learners to change employers, contributing to a high non-completion rate and lower achievement rates for providers. Now apprentices can be placed on a break in learning for up to 12 weeks before they start with a new employer – so when life happens, they get the time and support they need to find their feet and continue their training elsewhere.
People without level 1 English and maths will no longer be forced to attempt level 2 tests in order to complete a level 2 apprenticeship. The relaxation of this requirement has been extended to all on-programme apprentices, as well as those starting their training in August 2022.
The ESFA had warned that providers may be required to hand back their funding if an apprentice withdraws with ‘insufficient progress towards their training plan’, defined as being “more than four weeks behind on the planned delivery of training, but the training has not been replanned or the apprentice has not been put on a break in learning”.
After overwhelming provider feedback stating the requirement was impractical, this has been removed from the new rules. To retain funding, providers will simply be required to evidence a record of apprenticeship part-completion to help the person find new employment.
When a new apprentice is assessed to have no relevant prior learning, providers must agree in writing with the employer and document it in the evidence pack before training commences.
After feedback from audits, the new rules have also increased requirements for providers to keep training plans up-to-date. Providers must now be able to “show, upon request, an up-to-date training plan and current progress towards this training plan”, or risk losing their funds.