Westminster Employment Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
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Priorities for Apprenticeship funding in England - funding, engagement with business, and revitalising take-up in the wake of COVID-19

Morning, Friday, 6th November 2020

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will focus on key priorities for apprenticeship funding and delivery in England.

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials due to attend from the DfE; Cabinet Office; DCMS; DIT; DfT; the FCO; the Government Equalities Office; the MOD; the MoJ; the UK Space Agency and the Valuation Office Agency.

The discussion at a glance:

  • the impact of COVID-19
  • the future of the levy
  • funding band reform
  • priorities for employers and students
  • how to improve apprenticeship take-up

Relevant background and developments:

  • Consultation on changes to funding recommendation - by the IATE on how the Institute recommends funding bands, with the IFA intending to use feedback to design a more defined model
  • Major expansion of post-18 education and training to level up and prepare workers for post-COVID economy - the PM’s post-18 education statement, highlighting the opportunities following the completion of an apprenticeship, increased funding for SMEs taking on apprenticeships, and the flexibility in provision
  • Apprenticeship funding rules - for the 2020/2021 academic year published by the DfE, including the eligibility rules for the new employer apprenticeship incentives announced by the Chancellor, such as the payment to companies of £2,000 to take on an apprentice aged between 16 and 24
  • Apprenticeship funding in England From August 2020 - with all new learners required to be studying courses adhering to new, employer-designed apprenticeship standards
  • Treasury took back £330m of apprenticeships funding in 19-20 - as reported in FE WEEK, despite concerns that SMEs had struggled to find providers with sufficient levy funds to train their apprentices
  • 'Skills, skills, skills' for recovery, says Halfon - calls from the Chair of the Education Select Committee for apprenticeships to be front and centre of government’s plans to boost skills in the post pandemic recovery - creating a new apprenticeship culture, with the apprenticeship levy focused on apprenticeships for 16 to 24 year olds and to tackle disadvantage

The agenda:

  • Policy priorities for the future of the Apprenticeship levy
  • Addressing the future funding needs of the Sector
  • Safeguarding funding post COVID-19 - making best use of the provider relief scheme, future areas of focus for funding and maintaining commitments from stakeholders
  • Priorities for supporting business participation and support of apprenticeships
  • Rejuvenating apprenticeship numbers following COVID-19 - funding delivery of programmes in the ‘new normal’, value for money and ensuring funding in areas of greatest need
  • Assessment in the Era of Covid and looking beyond

The discussion in detail:

In the wake of pandemic - priorities going forward and future funding frameworks

  • the impact of the pandemic on apprenticeship funding and the ability of companies to take on apprentices - and the way forward
  • assessing recent policy developments, including the new apprenticeship bonus as part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs 2020 and its likely impact in encouraging companies to take on apprentices
  • the operation of the ESFA post-16 provider relief scheme- and its effectiveness in enabling apprenticeship provider organisations to continue to operate and in ensuring the retention of capacity within the apprenticeships sector
  • adapting methods and models of delivery - priorities for providers to allow for continued teaching and provision of courses after the conclusion of the relief scheme
  • the current and future operation of the apprenticeship levy, with recent research from the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board finding that few employers feel it has increased the number of apprentices that an employer takes on.
  • the impact of changes to the levy introduced last year and whether these reforms do enough to increase the flexibility of levy funds, looking at:
    • the reduction in the co-investment rate for non-levy paying firms
    • the increase in the percentage that levy-paying firms can transfer to smaller firms in their supply chain
  • issues for small businesses that fall outside the scope of the levy, meaning that many SMEs are not benefitting from the current programme - with discussion expect on:
    • concerns surrounding the affordability and availability of funding
    • further potential reform to improve take-up, such as the introduction of incentive schemes and delegating greater control of levy funds to small businesses.

Private sector engagement and apprenticeship numbers going forward

  • what more may be needed to ensure continued stakeholder engagement and support from the private sector in the provision of apprenticeships across the UK economy
  • priorities and potential strategies for policymakers, regulators and businesses in revitalising the numbers of new apprenticeship starters in the aftermath of the pandemic and retaining those studying courses already in progress
  • the effect of new employer-designed apprenticeship standards on apprenticeship quality and uptake rates

Review of apprenticeship funding bands
With concerns over value for money and financial viability in cases of funding reductions, discussion on:

  • the process for funding band decisions
  • the likely design of the new model 
  • the impact of funding band changes for individual standards

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department for Education; the Cabinet Office; the DCMS; the Department for International Trade; the Department for Transport; the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office; the Government Equalities Office; the Ministry of Defence; the Ministry of Justice; the UK Space Agency and the Valuation Office Agency.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

David Hughes

Chief Executive Officer, Association of Colleges

Alissa Dhaliwal

Head of Education and Skills, CBI

Keynote Speakers

Rob Nitsch

Chief Operating Officer, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

Jonathan Childs

Deputy Director, Apprenticeships Covid-19 Response Team, Education and Skills Funding Agency, Department for Education

David Hughes

Chief Executive Officer, Association of Colleges

Alissa Dhaliwal

Head of Education and Skills, CBI


Lord Lilley

former Secretary of State for Social Security (1992-1997)

Lord Young of Norwood Green

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Skills and Apprenticeships


Nicola Drury

UK Apprenticeship Manager, Amazon

Charlotte Bosworth

Managing Director, Innovate Awarding and Chair, Federation of Awarding Bodies End Point Assessment Organisations Group

Councillor Sean Fielding

Leader, Oldham Council; and Lead, Education, Skills and Apprenticeships, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Simon Ashworth

Chief Policy Officer, Association of Employment and Learning Providers

Andrew Hartley

Commercial Director, The Sheffield College

Anna Ambrose

Director of the London Progression Collaboration, Institute for Public Policy Research

Sheila Fraser Whyte

Executive Director, Richmond upon Thames College

Patrick Craven

Director of Assessment Policy, Research and Compliance, City and Guilds

Ann Potterton

Head of Apprenticeships, BT