NIACE proposes new apprenticeship quality fund for ‘underrepresented groups’

The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) has proposed a host of changes to apprenticeship funding in response to the governments appeal for input as part of its national spending review.

The organisation has joined forces with the Centre for Social Inclusion (Inclusion), in which they submitted a joint proposal which seeks to ‘‘invest in widening access to apprenticeships from underrepresented groups and fund employer-led quality initiatives to enhance outcomes for apprentices and businesses.’’

This move follows both companies decision to form an ‘alliance’ back in February, as they aim to promote an “even stronger voice promoting citizenship, inclusive economic growth and a stronger and fairer society”.

NIACE points out that close to £1 billion is spent on promoting and increasing access to universities, but not a penny is spent on funding apprenticeship initiatives that could help combat gender bias, as well as the underrepresentation of ethnic minorities and the disabled.

Both groups have put forward a number of financial changes that could revolutionise the apprenticeship and learning sector, including:

1. Establishing Personal Career Accounts which will help individuals and employers make greater investments towards apprenticeships.

2. A new Apprenticeship Quality and Access Fund.

The fund would be separate to the governments Apprenticeship Levy and would be designed to increase the apprenticeship demand from UK businesses, thereby helping the Conservatives achieve their ‘3m by 2020 target’.

3. A single funding agency for all post 19 loans, merging SFA and HEFCE to maximise the investment that goes to the frontline and improve parity of esteem between academic and vocational routes.

‘‘Government needs to use this spending review to make an important commitment to prioritise investment in learning, skills and employment,’’ stated David Hughes, chief executive at NIACE.

‘‘This is critical to nurturing our economy, helping to strengthen productivity and ensuring that economic growth is inclusive. Our proposals as good for people and businesses, boosting opportunity and competitiveness in the global economy and improving public services.’’

‘‘If the Government wants to fulfil its own ambitions and aspirations for a more productive Britain, halving the disability unemployment gap and creating 3 million Apprenticeships, then it must ensure that adults of all ages have opportunities to learn and to get on in work and in life.’’

‘‘Far too many people are missing out which not only threatens their own life chances, but damages the prospects for increased workforce productivity, and for sustained economic growth,” finished Hughes.