24 October 2012
In response to the publication today of Ofsted's report, AoC's Skills Policy Manager Teresa Frith said: “The apprenticeship model is fundamentally a good one and our member colleges are keenly aware the focus must continue to be on quality. The work they do in this area is done with integrity and is of a high standard and it is gratifying to see that apprentices themselves were positive about their experiences, including their off-the-job training.
“The past two years has seen a significant expansion of the apprenticeship programme at the behest of the government and colleges support this drive to improve the employment opportunities of young people in their communities. In responding to this rapid shift in demand, and the move away from Train to Gain, it’s been necessary for colleges to undertake extra sub-contracting in order to engage the niche expertise many subcontractors offer. The majority of these relationships lead to quality provision and work well for students, colleges, communities and the subcontractors. Our members accept their responsibility as lead contractors and know that the quality of the work that the subcontractor delivers must be as good as if they were delivering it themselves.
“Colleges have responded positively to the Skills Funding Agency’s decision to reduce the number of providers it works with. We would agree in some cases this has increased the workload for colleges and the ability of niche providers to work independently. However, there are some issues that clearly need to be dealt with in the FE system as a whole in relation to sub-contracting and it’s our view that this is not likely to be achieved through rigid regulation which will constrain effective partnerships. Instead we’ve been working with AELP and LSIS to develop a more robust approach to the sub-contracting process and to disseminate guidance on best practice and transparency around sub-contracting.
“We look forward to continuing to improve provision through building on well-established relationships and to continuously improving less well-established relationships to the benefit of apprentices and their employers.”