A call for support

Floorlaying apprenticeship training providers need your support, says Mick O’Flynn

RECENTLY much has been written about the importance of apprenticeships, government’s new levy, trailblazers in England and skills tests in Scotland and it’s great skills and training is being given such a high profile.

Investing in apprenticeships has always been important whether it’s the industry recruiting new entrants or the government supplying funding to support the process, however, spare a thought for the colleges and training providers out there, as they’re currently trying to stay on top of large-scale changes, which can sometimes cause disruption to their main business activity, which is of course training apprentices for industry.

At the moment, we appear to be in a ‘perfect storm’ with floorlaying apprenticeships across England, Scotland and Wales giving training providers different challenges (headaches), as follows:

England – Funding available to training providers delivering the existing floorlaying apprenticeship has recently been reduced by government on the basis that once the new floorlayer trailblazer apprenticeship is approved it will be properly funded up to at least 90% of the cost.

But the new trailblazer hasn’t been approved by government yet and when it’s finally approved and ready to deliver (most likely in 2018) large employers will already be receiving the funding directly for their own new starts instead of training providers, with the large employer then required to negotiate the training and assessment costs and pay for them with the digital funds they’ve been given in return for the levy they pay.

Therefore, training providers in England are currently experiencing temporary reductions to their funding, together with other forced changes and potential delays to their income as government presses on with its apprenticeship reforms, which will in the future provide funding directly to all employers who recruit apprentices, requiring them to pay their chosen training provider through a digital service.

Scotland – Over the past 12 months there’s been much passionate discussions about the content of apprenticeships and related quality assurance, particularly focusing on the administration and delivery of the skills test, together with how it fits with SVQs and the professional development award – as a result of overwhelming support from employers the skills test has been retained, but administration will be moved towards the colleges and there’ll be a new focus on apprentices supplying site based evidence portfolios to cover the full breadth of the SVQ, which will then need to be assessed and verified by college assessors creating additional work and challenges for college staff, apprentices and employers.

Wales – Coleg Cambria – Yale, the only college that delivered floorlaying apprenticeships in Wales has closed its doors to floorlaying this year, therefore the CFA is working with its members, the CITB and the new Construction Wales Innovation Centre (CWIC), to find a solution which will hopefully maintain apprenticeship training in Wales.

Taking the above into account, if you were thinking about recruiting an apprentice this year, now would be a good time and the colleges and training providers would welcome your interest and support, particularly with these changes working their way through the system.

It’s also the best way to avoid future skills gaps and will help maintain our valuable floorlaying apprenticeship provision during a challenging time, as well as giving someone the opportunity of an exciting new career.

Floorlaying apprenticeship training providers are listed below, but it’s always worth starting with a call or email to the CITB (0344 994 4010 or citbapprenticeships@citb.co.uk) as they offer support with recruiting apprentices into some of the colleges mentioned below and apprenticeship grants up to £6,000 if you’re in-scope to the CITB; they can even offer recruitment support (without CITB grants) if you’re not in-scope to the CITB levy:

Floorlaying colleges and training providers:

Accrington & Rossendale College
01254 389933
City of Glasgow College
0141 332 9969

Construction and Plant Assessments
01709 868181
Craft Recruitment and Training
County Tyrone
028 7188 0044

01564 703900

Floortrain (GB) Doncaster and London Centres
01302 249555
0203 668 1576

Fullagar Construction Skills Centre
St Helens
01744 819000
Northumberland College
01670 841200

Skills to Group
0845 319 4343

01159 411126
Mick O’Flynn is CFA’s training manager