Calls have been made for the government to protect funding for independent training providers during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
Apprentice trainers to the fire and security sector, Skills for Security, follows guidance released by the Department for Education (DfE) which states that policy “does not allow payment for services in advance of delivery”, which will mean that funding for apprenticeships cannot be made until the training has taken place.
Skills for Security, which operates under the British Security Industry Association, believes the omission of support from the DfE for apprenticeships and other skills training is a ‘complete turnaround’ after the Secretary of State guaranteed funding support for mainstream further education provision. The latest guidance excludes any independent training providers who deliver adult education, apprenticeships and other forms of training, although colleges will continue to receive guaranteed funding even though they are technically independent providers.
Skills for Security says there is concern that anyone providing this type of education is in danger of going out of business in the likelihood of a dramatic fall in attendance or the inability for apprentices to attend online training if their firm is providing key worker services and the demand on the apprentices’ time means there are unable to participate with the new online model.
Skills for Security are therefore calling for the Government to consider:
• All independent training provider contracts should be paid on profile whatever the current performance and levy apprenticeships paid based on the prior six months delivery
• If funding is maintained, providers will commit to not furlough staff relating to delivery thus saving the Treasury a significant amount of money.
• Guarantee the next month’s funding to allow time to sort through the details and how the model might work.
David Scott, Managing Director, Skills for Security, said: “We are incredibly concerned that this omission of financial support will have a dramatic effect on our business as a leading provider of fire and security apprenticeships in our sector. Although we have had a 90% remote access participation for this week’s training, the following week at present is less than 50% and, based on the Government’s statement this will have a serious effect on our finances.
“If providers cease trading or furlough substantial numbers of staff then apprentices, learners and employers who want to continue training will lose their provider and many of these learners will be left with no support. If we are unable to guarantee funding there is every chance the industry will lose capacity and increase levels of unemployed and a low possibility of upskilling those in the workplace.
“The lack of support from the DfE is not only going to affect our current financial and operational performance, but the long term effects may mean we will not be able to reach our full potential in ensuring the fire and security industry has appropriate number of apprentices trained. Before this impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the security industry reported a skills shortage of 30,000 engineers needed to service customer requirements. Skills for Security significant expansion in its training resources and provision ensured we can meet the increase in demand for apprenticeship training nationally.”