Progress: you may have been getting away with this, but it doesn’t make it right! Hopefully this will make other providers think about their learners and not just their bank balance.

Apprenticeship course postponed for hundreds

Zenos has written to hundreds of apprenticeship candidates telling them the course they were due to start on Monday is no longer taking place.

Photo: Alamy
By Louisa Peacock, Jobs editor
Last Updated: 7:05PM GMT 06/01/2012

Hundreds of people due to start an apprenticeship on Monday have been told not to bother turning up, it has emerged.

IT training provider Zenos, owned by Pearson, the FTSE 100 education and publishing group, has written to 300 candidates aged 19 or over telling them their scheduled placement for 2012 will not begin as planned on January 9. The company runs thousands of apprenticeship programmes each year.

The Skills Funding Agency, a Department for Business body, is understood to have asked Zenos to review its apprenticeship scheme because those enrolled on the course have no guarantee of employment with another organisation once the programme has finished.

Critics have long argued that apprenticeships of this kind, with no employers involved, lead to “ghost jobs” with candidates being turfed out into the labour market upon finishing their course, raising questions over value-for-money of the state-backed scheme.

Last month the Government promised a crackdown on training programmes that failed to meet quality standards. Skills minister John Hayes warned BIS would withdraw money from providers where there was evidence public money had been “over-claimed”.

Under the previous arrangements, Zenos would have paid all 300 apprenticeship candidates a wage, effectively making them employees of the training provider. But it could not guarantee work for them once they had finished the course.

It is now working to devise a new training programme which it hopes to start in the next few weeks, although it will not officially be called an apprenticeship.

A spokesman said the company did not yet know whether the new programme would pay participants of the course. The new “wage” may just involve expenses, a company statement said.

Jason Moss, managing director of Zenos, said: “Due to recent changes in the Government policy on apprenticeships, we are now working hard to ensure that the Zenos provision is fully aligned to the latest policy and that our learners continue to receive the best programme.

“All of the existing affected candidates will be starting a relevant programme imminently that will support their aspirations to gain an apprenticeship within the original time frame.

“We have consistently adapted our programme over the last 18 months to reflect the Government guidelines and we have a flexible and dynamic operation that can respond to these changes.”

The news has hit many would-be learners hard, with some claiming they had turned down job offers elsewhere thinking they had secured an apprenticeship scheme with Zenos.

The training provider’s own Facebook page has been littered with comments over the past 24 hours.

However, the news appears to have been a shock to the training provider, too, with a statement on its Facebook page saying it only found out about the course changes “24 hours” ago.

The statement said: “Within the past 24 hours, the funding agencies have told us that anyone starting an apprenticeship now needs an employer and a specific job identified, prior to starting on the programme. This is out of our control and we can understand that this may cause you uncertainty, which we can only apologise for.

“We are working very hard on your behalf to ensure that you have a successful career in the IT sector and at present we anticipate that although the start of the training may differ slightly that overall you are on the programme for the same amount of time.”

Zenos also claims 91pc of its learners find a job after completing one of their apprenticeships.

Employers offering apprenticeships to people aged between 19 and 24 can claim about half of the cost of the course from the state. Those hiring 16 to 18 year-old apprentices are eligible for 100pc funding.

— Post From My Amazing Wandering iPhone

Paul Champion

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The futures bright the future is this orange

This may just about sum up what we need to do when it all gets too much…. Or feels like it is all too much.

— Post From My Amazing Wandering iPhone

60 Seconds – Things That Happen On Internet Every Sixty Seconds

In a sin­gle minute there are over 695,000 sta­tus updates on Face­book. That’s just one exam­ple of the mind bog­gling scale of online activ­i­ty.

The fol­low­ing info­graph­ics show a bunch of other incred­i­ble things that hap­pen in 60 sec­onds (via Barry Ritholtz).

— Post From My Amazing Wandering iPhone

Businesses in North of England are more likely to fail By James Hurley

A “NORTH-SOUTH” divide in the company failure rate widened in 2011 as 21,000 companies went bust across the UK, according to research by an accountancy firm.
Businesses in the North East and North West of England were more than one and a half times as likely to go bust than their counterparts in the south in 2011, RSM Tenon said.

ROUGHLY one in every 40 companies in the North East and North West became insolvent this year, compared with less than one in 70 in London and the South East.
In the latest blow to the Coalition’s plans to encourage a manufacturing-led recovery, the research showed that companies which are failing fastest in the North tend to be manufacturing-based.

Carl Jackson, head of RSM Tenon’s recovery service, said: “Sadly, it’s a return to the old story: northern England used to be geared towards industry, but, judged by proportion of insolvencies, it appears that industry is still deserting it.
“If you make furniture, industrial materials, pharmaceutical, medical and toiletries, or work in the wood, paper and board industry, you have a far higher chance of going bust if your company is based in the North than if its headquarters are below Watford.”

The impact of public sector cuts has yet to have a significant impact on the divide, Mr Jackson added. “It’s tempting to blame the rift on the effect of [spending cuts], especially given that the North – and particularly the North East – is relatively dependent on the public sector compared to elsewhere in the country,” he said.
“However, the proportion of failed public services companies in the North and the South was roughly similar this year.”

Paul Champion

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No ‘snobbery’ against apprenticeships – MP

Iain Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes South

One of the city’s MPs has called for apprenticeships to be given greater status as a career option for young people.

Speaking in a debate in Parliament about apprenticeships, MP for Milton Keynes South Iain Stewart argued that there should not be any form of ‘snobbery’ against apprenticeships and that they should be regarded as an equally valid option for training and education after school.

He pointed out that sometimes many careers advice services focus too much on the academic route and not enough on the vocational route with apprenticeships or other training options.

The Milton Keynes South MP used the debate to celebrate the higher than average take up of apprenticeships in Milton Keynes. The city has seen an increase of more than 70 percent in the number of apprentices taken on this year.

Also praising University Centre Milton Keynes for pioneering innovative ways of delivering new products to meet skills needs in the city, Mr Stewart invited John Hayes, Minister for Further Education, to visit the centre in order to see how it delivers its training.

Commenting afterwards, Mr Stewart said: “I believe that for the long-term health and rebalancing of UK economy we need to value apprenticeships and the learning that goes with them.

“I am pleased that the Government will offer employers an incentive payment of up to £1,500 to encourage them to take on an apprentice. I also welcome measures to simplify the bureaucracy and make it quicker and easier for employers to take on an apprentice.”

From September 2012, the Education Act 2011 will place a new duty on schools to secure access to independent, impartial careers guidance for pupils in school years nine to 11.

Subject to consultation, this will be extended down to year eight and to young people aged 16 to 18 in schools and further education settings.

Paul Champion

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BIS clarifies national funding rates, bursary schemes, and more… FE Week Dec 9, 2011

FE Week receives many questions about government announcements. This week we sought a number of clarifications from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) on your behalf.

No change in rates

The national funding rates will not change in 2012/13, according to BIS.

The investment strategy ‘New Challenges, New Chances’ makes no reference to funding rates, but a BIS spokesperson has confirmed “they have stayed the same”.

The BIS spokesperson also confi rmed that the large employer discount will remain at 25 per cent.

The apprenticeship rate for learners aged 25 and above will also remain at 20 per cent less than the rate for 19 to 24 year-olds.

Colleges dissolving

Colleges can now dissolve themselves as part of new freedoms given to the FE sector by government.

BIS has told FE Week that this is “a new power for colleges” and that “colleges may decide that they wish to adopt an alternative organisational form and/or form new partnerships with other providers to meet the needs of learners, employers and their broader communities. Such proposals could lead to dissolution of the current corporation.”

Permission from the Secretary of State will no longer be required.

Bursary details soon

New details about the bursary scheme for FE teachers and trainers undertaking ITT will be announced next Spring, the government has announced.

John Hayes MP unveiled the new bursaries at the Association of Colleges (AoC) Annual Conference, and said it would ensure FE teachers are “the best in the world”.

A BIS spokesperson told FE Week: “Arrangements for future bursaries are being discussed with the sector first.

“We anticipate further details in spring 2012.”

What’s in a name?

The government is conducting a review into how they can protect the “terminology and titles” of FE colleges.

A BIS spokesperson told FE Week that “colleges need to apply to the Department for approval for the name of a college corporation against published criteria”, and that the government
is not against a college rebranding themselves without the word ‘college’ in its name.

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Funding for 16-19 year-olds in 2012/13 announced Nick Reinis Dec 13, 2011

More than 30,000 extra 16-19 education places will be funded next year to cope with the raising of the participation age to 17 in 2013.

The Funding Statement, released by the The Young People’s Learning Agency (YPLA) today to set out the funding available for 16-19 education and training for 2012-13, shows the government plans to fund 1,577,000 places.

This is up from the 1,543,000 learners they expect providers to have recruited in 2011/12 and it comes despite a reduction in 16-19 recruitment, as highlighted in surveys by Lsect and the Association of Colleges (AoC).

The government has also set out its capital funding for 16-19 provision, including more than £107 million available to meet maintenance and building needs of sixth form colleges and demographic pressures for new 16-19 places in schools, academies and sixth form colleges.

Paul Champion

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UKCES announces nine new providers to deliver apprenticeship frameworks Nick Summers Dec 21, 2011

The UK Commission has chosen nine new providers to deliver apprenticeship frameworks in Universal Services.

The successful collaborations, formed by more than 25 different companies, will provide the National Occupational Standards, Apprenticeships and Modern Apprenticeship frameworks, as well as qualification related products for a number of different sectors.

The new providers, listed below, will deliver apprenticeship frameworks for the next three years, starting from April 01, 2012.

* Creative and Cultural Skills and Skillset: Creative and cultural, creative media and digital.
* Energy & Utility Skills, Cogent, Improve, Proskills and SEMTA: Electricity, gas, waste, water, bioscience, nuclear and similar industries, food and drink, process manufacturing, science and engineering.
* e-skills UK: IT and tele-comms.
* Lantra, SkillsActive, HABIA, People 1st, Improve and GoSkills: Land based, sport & leisure, transport, travel & tourism, food & drink, hairdressing and health & beauty.
* Skills for Care and Development: Care.
* Skillsmart Retail, Skills for Logistics and IMI: Retail, logistics and motor.
* CITB/ConstructionSkills and Proskills: Construction, process manufacturing and building services.
* Asset Skills, SummitSkills and Skills for Security: Property & facilities management, security and building services.
* Skills for Justice, Skills for Health, Financial Skills Partnership and Skills Third Sector: Justice, health and finance and the Third Sector.

The announcement follows a contestable commissioning process which was open to Sector Skills Councils, and held between September and December 2011.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) say they will be working with the Council for Administration on the pan sector products, ECITB for engineering and construction services, and LSIS for the lifelong learning sector.

Paul Champion

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Update on apprenticeship inquiry Nick Summers Dec 21, 2011

Preliminary terms of reference have been heard ahead of an MP led inquiry into apprenticeships.

The Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Select Committee expect to start the inquiry, revealed by FE Week earlier this month, in the New Year.

Adrian Bailey MP, chairman of the committee, said the inquiry will start in February and will be followed by a call for evidence which will start “fairly soon”.

Mr Bailey, speaking exclusively to FE Week, said the enquiry will address a number of issues surrounding apprenticeships, including quality, control, and employer contributions.

It comes following an announcement by skills minister John Hayes earlier this week that apprenticeships for 16 to 18-year-olds must be completed over at least 12 months, as well as strict new measures on quality.

When asked about who should be responsible for monitoring quality, Mr Bailey said: “I think we might incorporate that into Select Committee consideration.”

The call for evidence, which will be announced on the BIS Select Committee website, will enable anyone to submit written evidence for review.

Mr Bailey announced the enquiry at the ‘Real or Rebrand?’ apprenticeships debate organised by FE Week at the House of Commons in November.

Speaking at the event, Mr Bailey said: “I’m sure there are an enormous number of people in this room today who would want to submit evidence to that enquiry.

“So please look out for that and submit it, but don’t feel constrained about the committee’s timetable – I’m very happy to receive your submissions at any time on issues surrounding apprenticeships.”

Mr Bailey also attended the debate on apprenticeships held at the House of Commons last Monday, where Mr Hayes announced the minimum duration for all apprentices aged under-19.

Mr Bailey said: “The government is providing a considerable sum of money ostensibly for apprenticeships.

“A substantial proportion of that money is not providing apprenticeships as we understand them, but going to general training, which may itself be very good, but a lot of it might actually be done by a company as a whole.

“The government needs to review that, assess the financial implications of it and look to distribute some of that money in a way which I think is more effective.”

Mr Bailey said the problems surrounding apprenticeships were “highly dangerous” for the coalition government, and could potentially “blow up in their face.”

“What we need is real apprenticeships, and an adequate level of funding to ensure that they are meaningful and effective,” Mr Bailey said.

“The government should concentrate less on numbers and more on appropriateness of the course and validity.”

Paul Champion

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Dental Firm to Offer 25 Apprenticeships in the North East

A leading UK dental firm has confirmed that it will offer 25 apprenticeships in the North East over the next 18 months.

Genix Healthcare, an NHS service provider, will offer 25 apprenticeships in the North East in addition to 75 apprenticeships in the rest of the country.

Genix Healthcare has 22 practices in England and 5 in the North East. Representatives from the firm said that there was an urgent need for experienced dental nurses and they are offering training schemes for 100 dental nurses in the UK. Young nurses in the North East will be given the opportunity to train in practices in Middlesbrough, Whitley Bay, Alnwick and Skelton.

Genix Healthcare will invest around £250,000 in the training programme, which could last up to three years depending on the individual and will take them to a level 3 qualification in dental nursing.

Sian Nelson-Jones, clinical director of Genix, said that the company was aware of the difficult employment situation facing young people and it wanted to help young nurses out and give them the necessary training and support.

Paul Champion

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