With negative provider and apprenticeship stories dominating Further Education press recently, HIT Managing Director Jill Whittaker and Operations Director Mike Worley explain what we are doing differently to make sure we stay at the top of our game.
Plans to succeed
“You will have heard that there’s a lot of disruption in the world of work based learning at the moment,” explains Jill. “Qube has gone bust, Lifetime and Babington have brought in turnaround specialists, and The Skills Network has come out of the apprenticeship market.
“For many training providers, underfunded apprenticeships have meant they simply can’t continue. The good news for us is that six of our highest volume apprenticeships have had funding uplifts so new starts will be much better funded in future and this will really help.
“It’s shocking, though, that whilst all this disruption has been going on, the government continues to drag their feet on reform and funding increases across the board, especially when you realise that they have taken £1billion more in apprenticeship levy over the last three years than they have spent!
“A new Director of Apprenticeships and Skills Bootcamps, Kate Ridley-Moy, is joining the DfE from the cabinet office next month and has been given the remit of reform so watch this space – perhaps Sunak & Co are going to put that billion pounds back where it’s needed…
“In the meantime, HIT is holding its own and continuing to build great partnerships with our clients, and this is a major strength. Partnerships include the University of Nottingham with our unique brewer programme as well as close links with The Clink and the Prison Service in relation to our prisoner apprenticeships offer.
“In addition, our trainers genuinely know the roles they are training – that might sound obvious, but I can assure you that many training organisations don’t employ sector experts.
“Using our specialist approach to apprenticeships and through strong sector partnerships, we are able to keep on revolutionising our apprenticeship delivery to enable more value for sector employers.
“Our other point of difference as a provider is that we recently became an Employee Ownership Trust meaning that any profits we make this year will go in part to paying down loan notes that were raised when we set up the trust, and to paying our staff a tax-free bonus.”
Funding band uplifts and new apprenticeship rules for 2023-24
Mike tells how: “August brings the yearly update to the apprenticeship funding rules. This includes a change from active learning taking place every four weeks to every calendar month which brings some welcome flexibility whilst ensuring progression.
“We have enhanced our pre-enrolment to make sure prospective apprentices have all the necessary information, advice and guidance to give them the best start to their apprenticeship.
“This includes a greater emphasis on their commitment, their employer commitment and understanding any barriers that may hinder their ability to progress. These amendments will allow greater engagement from the start of the apprenticeship and set learners up to progress through to end-point assessment in a timely manner.
“We continue to redevelop and rebuild our local teams of industry specialist trainers so that we are able to better understand local communities and the challenges being faced.
“We have recently reviewed our delivery framework for every apprenticeship standard we offer. Where funding allows and feedback demonstrates, we have increased learner face-to-face visits to improve our service and aid learner retention. It also gives our trainers the time to see the challenges being faced by the sectors we are invested in and so passionate about.
“With the new funding uplifts and new apprenticeships rules for 2023-24, we are looking forward to some positive months ahead.”
For more on the new apprenticeship rules for 2023-24, click here.