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Levelling up apprenticeships

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Apprenticeships, Further education, Technical education

Rt Hon Gavin Williamson - Education Secretary

Today, the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, has written to Jennifer Coupland, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE), asking her to review the Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship standard to ensure it is meeting its intended aims and providing value for money.

This apprenticeship – which was approved for use by the IfATE in February 2018 – is the second most popular standard on offer at this level with 3,410 in 2018/19.

It is currently the only apprenticeship standard at this level that contains either an MBA, MA or MSc in management.

In his letter, the Secretary of State reiterated his determination to ensure levy funds are used to support the people that can benefit most from an apprenticeship, such as those starting out in their careers or those from disadvantaged backgrounds, rather than paying for staff who already have a degree and are highly qualified to receive an MBA.

The letter was covered by a number of media outlets including the Times, Financial Times, I news and BBC Online.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

The levy funds apprenticeships for businesses of all sizes, helping people of all ages and backgrounds make the most of their talents.

I am committed to maintaining an employer-led system, but I’m not convinced the levy should be used to pay for staff, who are often already highly qualified and highly paid, to receive an MBA.

I’d rather see funding helping to kick-start careers or level up skills and opportunities. That’s why I’ve asked for a review of the senior leader apprenticeship standard to ensure it is meeting its aims.

The full letter can be seen below:

Dear Jennifer,

I know the Institute and its Board share my commitment for apprenticeships to support learners to develop and progress and employers to build a talent pipeline and increase the productivity of their business.

I am absolutely determined to make sure levy funds are being used to support the people that can benefit most from an apprenticeship, such as those starting out in their careers or helping more people from disadvantaged backgrounds to get ahead, and that we ensure good value for money in the apprenticeships offer. My officials will be working closely with you through the Spending Review process to make sure that we achieve that balance.

In that context, am unconvinced that having an apprenticeship standard that includes an MBA paid for by the levy is in the spirit of our reformed apprenticeships or provides value for money. I question whether an MBA is an essential regulatory or professional requirement to work in this field of senior leadership. It is of the utmost importance for the integrity of the programme and the apprenticeships brand that each and every standard meets our highest possible expectations. I am of the view that we absolutely need to safeguard the integrity of the apprenticeship brand and value for money of the levy.

Therefore, I am asking the Institute, as the body responsible for the quality and content of those standards, to bring forward a formal review of the Senior Leader Level 7 standard. You should ensure that the standard meets the current policy intent and rules, including the mandatory qualifications policy, and provides value for money.

I have every confidence that notwithstanding your range of priorities you will be able to take forward this review with your employer-led groups at pace.

Therefore, I look forward to hearing back from you by 1 June about the outcome of your considerations.

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