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CCATF repeat calls for relaxation of Apprenticeship rules

CCATF repeat calls for relaxation of Apprenticeship rules

 

Dear Secretary of State,

Construction Plant - Apprenticeship related issues

I hope you are continuing to keep safe and well. I was delighted to see your latest announcement regarding the support measures for at risk and redundant apprentices through the Redundancy Support Service. This intervention is timely and potentially of great benefit to the youngsters affected by the pandemic and something our membership will both engage with and support through future apprenticeship employment opportunities.

I write however regarding the recent approval of another construction standard namely; Construction Plant Operative Apprenticeship Standard, https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/construction-plant-operative/ which after a revised funding band assessment we are pleased to receive an appropriate maximum funding band allocation, this will support more plant operative apprentices in to the industry and it will benefit major projects such as HS2, however I also seek further clarification from yourselves regarding RoATP ‘register’

I am aware several potential training partners have recently sought to become RoATP approved and registered to deliver this Standard and we ourselves and the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) have promoted this to the wider specialist training provider network as well as employer providers to enable them to get registered on RoATP ready for delivery.

The problem is however the relevant webpage at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/register-of-apprenticeship-training-providers had the following statement:

The register of apprenticeship training providers will close for new applications from midnight on Wednesday 15 April 2020. This is due to the impact coronavirus (COVID-19) may have on apprenticeship training providers and ESFA.

Unfortunately, as the website indicates the register is currently closed and apparently there is no date in place for when it may re-open. The Construction Plant Operative Trailblazer Standard Group have themselves also sought further clarification from the ESFA about the closing of the RoATP, which seems counterproductive to support the current focus and the potential delivery of this apprenticeship given the acute shortage of skilled Plant Operators currently within the construction sector.

I also believe the Trailblazer Group were initially provided with some indifferent advice from the Department regarding the RoATP ‘register’ which may have already been highlighted and raised as an issue to your ESFA Covid – 19 response team, consisting of senior and policy representatives from within the Department for Education. Separately, I also believe there is an issue with potential sub-contracting, which in any event is not an ideal situation.

The Construction Plant Operative Trailblazer Standard Group represents a good mix of employers and stakeholders but there are also at least 240,000 operatives working across construction and allied utilities sectors. And a leading construction plant card scheme recently indicated that it also has approximately 180,000, registered plant operators.

Separately, Past CPA research has shown that the UK plant hire sector is worth approximately £4 billion-plus to the UK economy. And an earlier CITB Construction Skills Network report stated a total number of plant operators alone at an estimated 42,000 currently with an annual recruitment requirement of around 2000 operators every year until 2028.

Additionally, with the recent announcement regarding HS2 and the planned Highways England projects it is forecast that the total number of plant operators, plant mechanics and managers could increase by a further 50% per year every year until 2030!

Whilst writing I am also concerned about a recent funding band allocation for the Construction Plant Mechanic Trailblazer Standard, which has just had approved albeit with a ridiculously low funding band of only £10K and well short of the quotes obtained by several FE college providers (£18K).

The Group have gone through the appeal process, but their appeal has been rejected. The real risk is that the colleges and training providers will not offer this apprenticeship for this amount, which will put this important construction apprenticeship with approx. 500 registrations per annum in jeopardy.

I believe, the FE colleges and training providers have hardly covered themselves in glory and failed to provide detailed and grossly inadequate quotations, but once again this will have an entirely adverse effect on construction plant mechanic apprenticeship starts!

I appreciate a formal process has been followed but once again this is counterintuitive to the needs and demands of the sector and to and in support of real sustainable apprenticeship and employment opportunities for UK construction businesses.

I look forward to hearing back from you in due course.

Yours sincerely,

Martyn W Price MBE

Chairman Cross-Industry Construction Apprenticeship Task Force

Apprenticeship Ambassador

Workforce Development Director O’Halloran & O’Brien Ltd

 

cc. Jennifer Coupland, CEO, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

  

 

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