The New Register Of Approved Training Providers – Just What Happened?

The register of approved training providers RoATP has now been published and the dust is beginning to settle. We thought it might be time to take a look at the picture that is painted from the results. We don’t have all the official data and statistics but some simple excel wizardry will am sure get us to a near complete picture.

Applications

A total of 2,327 applications received – much lower than the existing ROTO register and I’m sure that will come as a disappointment as we start to unpick the results.

Successful Applications

  • 1708, so about 75% of those applying got through. But there are some notable exceptions.
  • A number of large colleges failed to get through – maybe they decided Apprenticeships were not for them and not ‘core’ so didn’t bother to apply. But with Ofsted and the financial health of some Colleges, it isn’t a surprise they didn’t get through although inevitably there is always a 2nd and indeed 3rd chance and there will be some influencing going on.
  • PTP’s – there are some notable names missing from the approved list. We know of 2 with a combined Apprenticeship budget of £22m which are missing from the list – that’s a lot of Apprentices needing some provision and sadly we heard of the demise of Positive Outcomes on Friday of last week.
  • Our analysis shows more than £150m of existing Apprenticeship allocations where providers are missing from the approved list – some will certainly re-apply and get through but certainly if you look at the list, many at the lower end would appear not to have bothered at all. It’s good that some organisations are taking the view that Apprenticeships is not their core business.
  • 18 new providers admitted to the register without a financial track record – this seems very low to us and analysis of some of the names would seem to indicate something has gone wrong here because some large multi nationals in this list – who clearly do have a financial track record
  • 26 providers with a parental guarantee in support of their applications – I am sure we will see more of this in subsequent rounds of the register.

Employer Providers

The expected surge of employer providers, remember 20,000 levy payers really does not seem to have brought about the change expected. Still early days but 238 applications and 170 on the register does feel disappointing and if we probe more deeply 90 of these were previously on ROTO, so only 80 new applicants of which 30 are from the Public Sector. That looks as though only about 50 Private Sector Employers will become employer providers. This provides a major opportunity for everyone, but do we really have the capacity in the existing provider base to deliver to the 19800 employers looking for some solutions?

There is a surge of employers now waking up to the levy if our telephone lines have anything to go by – but we will be stopping sales very soon to focus on delivery of the c£40m of levy business already won.

Main Providers

1753, applicants, 1303 successful of which 1197 were previously on the register – to us that looks like 106 new providers of which from our analysis 20 of these are from the public sector – So the whole process has resulted in only 106 new providers coming into the levy market – is that a sign of the fragmented market we all operate in or is it a sign that many private sector training providers aren’t interested in this thing called the Apprenticeship Levy. I for one, would be disappointed by this result and certainly I would urge the Government and the SFA to do something to encourage new players.

The much lauded, lots of new larger players coming into the market to service Apprentice Levy clients from this analysis just doesn’t seem to have happened – YET !

Supporting Providers

336 applicants, 235 successful of which only 42 are new and not previously on ROTO, again 6 of these from the public sector. I’ve looked at some of these supporting providers and it does seem to me some may have ticked the wrong box – and really should be main providers.

Overall, we now have 1473 providers in scope of Ofsted, compared with the 793 existing providers – a significant additional burden on Ofsted and cost to the public purse. It will be interesting to see how Ofsted prioritise their inspection regime and when new providers will get the attention I am sure they will welcome.

So in conclusion, there certainly isn’t much new substantive provision that has emerged from the process, albeit a necessary one and I am not sure the sleepless nights for the provider network were warranted for the lack of wholesale change that has resulted. We await the outcome of the tender for none levy clients and how the £440m will be re-distributed. I am sure for some, being on the register might actually result in them reflecting that the easy part has been done and now the hard work of winning clients, servicing them and the working capital requirements of that and introducing new MIS and Quality Systems will hit home and they take the decision that the risk is just too great. For those that take the leap, welcome to the club.

For me, the biggest disappointment is that we do need more capacity of size in the system (treason I hear you all say!) and this so far has not delivered on this. Even if 50% of the levy paying employers as predicted take up their levy and yes 170 of them will deliver themselves, that still leaves 9,800 looking for a provider and has been reported elsewhere, many of the new providers really don’t have the track record to deliver- even to the smallest levy clients which in themselves are quite large businesses.

Are we really ready to service this capacity now? For us, we will be focussing on about 70 clients, and no more. That leaves 9,730 customers for you all to go at from the 1302 of you left on the register – Good luck and happy hunting

Peter Marples

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