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28th January 2021


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Treasury claws back £300m+ from apprenticeship training at expense of small employers

L* Treasury-claws-back.jpgast week it was announced that the Treasury took back over £300m of funds allocated to apprenticeships despite small employers being turned away. With 90% of employers in the furniture and interiors sector being non-levy payers, this means that excellent and often specialist training providers of essential skills are having their funding allocations cut to the extent that they can do little more for SME's than complete existing apprentices on their programmes.

Mark Dawe, chief executive at AELP says of the announcement: "It's desperately disappointing to hear the DfE admit that such a significant sum of money went back to the Treasury when we know that all of it could have been spent on funding apprenticeships of SME employers.

"The fact is that 200 good quality providers were unable to offer any apprenticeships to non-levy employers after what the Skills Minister (Anne Milton) herself described as an 'awful' procurement [process]; and those with contracts were not able to get the growth they wanted to meet employer demand."

The Furniture & Interiors Education, Skills & Training Alliance has countered this invidious position for the furniture and interiors sector by setting up Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus, which includes an Apprentice Training Agency at its heart. By a quirk of the funding rules the Apprentice Training Agency circumvents the impact of the clawback and 'access to training' rules, which means that SME's can access whatever funded training for
apprentices they like through the Skills Plus route.

Gary Baker chair of FIESTA states: "We have laid the foundations for our sector to train new
and existing colleagues in a range of qualifications from new entrants at level 2, to senior managers at master's degree levels and everything in between. To get the message out there, we invite employers to attend the Closing the Skills Gap conference at Furniture Makers Hall, on 26th April. It's open to all furniture and interiors manufacturers and will be the start of a countrywide push to engage members to show the opportunities in funded training that we have developed."

Jeremy Stein CEO of the BCFA adds: "Some of our sector's specialist training providers have had allocations against which our members could have drawn down funding, halved from May this year. We urge all manufacturers, to attend the conference or contact us to understand how you can access the funded training you need; and engage with the providers of your choice. We were in danger of letting the far reaching and excellent training opportunities simply evaporate through lack of funding, but we have worked hard to ensure that the full range of qualifications should be available to all of our members, either levy or non-levy payers."

FIESTA members include: The Association of Master Upholsterers & Soft Furnishers (AMUSF), The British Contract Furnishing Association (BCFA), The British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM), The Furniture Makers' Company (FMC), the Kitchen, Bathroom, Bedroom Specialists Association (KBSA), The Kitchen Education Trust (TKET) and the National Bed Federation (NBF).

FIESTA works with the British Furniture Confederation to communicate education and training needs to the Government.

T: 01494 896790
W: www.fiestalearning.com

24th April 2019

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