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Home > News > May 2004 > 19-May-2004

CE report opens Association of Learning Providers conference

The Government’s increasing responsiveness to the demands of employers when formulating national skills policy means that independent training providers should play a more prominent role in delivering state-supported training.

This was the key message of the chief executive of the Association of Learning Providers when the trade association, which represents a wide range of work-based learning (WBL) providers, opened its annual ‘Partners in Learning’ conference in Harrogate today.

Graham Hoyle welcomed developments in the twelve months since Charles Clarke told ALP delegates at last year’s conference that they were ‘at the sharp end’ of engaging employers in improving Britain’s productivity record. These included the continued roll-out of the Employer Training Pilots, delivery of adult basic skills training by WBL providers and the latest reforms to apprenticeships.

However, Graham Hoyle emphasised that there was still a long way to go before stated policy would be fully realised in terms of delivery at the local level. In particular, where training providers were demonstrating employer demand for certain types of training, some local learning and skills councils were still not being forthcoming with financial support.

Graham Hoyle commented: “Four years after legislation laid down the principle that skills budgets should be opened up to any provider with the capacity to deliver high-quality training, ring-fencing of LSC funding continues, preventing training providers from offering tailor-made workforce development solutions to individual employers from a single supplier. The Government has shown that it is listening to ALP’s case, but we need to see a faster dismantling of the barriers which are damaging the successful delivery of the national skills strategy.”

The Association of Learning Providers has stepped up its campaign to secure an opening up of the learning market by submitting a paper for discussion with the DfES and LSC with the aim of jointly agreeing a time-based plan or protocol. This should substantially increase the opportunity for independent providers to contribute to delivery and would be achieved in a carefully planned way so as not to destabilise the Further Education sector.

ALP also used its submission to the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review to warn that the skills strategy would only be effectively delivered if hard decisions were taken on the allocation of the LSC’s multi-billion pound budget. The warning came following the Prime Minister’s speech at Labour’s spring conference when Tony Blair identified apprenticeships and job-related training as a means of encouraging young people to stay in education or training until 18 or 19.

The submission welcomed new commitments on developing basic skills and the entitlement of all adults to achieve their first level 2 qualification. But the Association said that these and other commitments such as expanding the apprenticeship programme required first call on the resources of the LSC. Unless further investment could be found to deliver ‘first level 2s’, then existing funds should be transferred from general post-16 education, especially that supporting non-accredited, non-vocational training.

Graham Hoyle added: “The key driver must be delivery of the skills strategy. There should be no artificial protection of any one part of the sector over another, the criteria solely being capacity to deliver the high quality provision required in response to employer demand.”

The Partners in Learning Conference & Exhibition 2004, ALP’s second annual conference, takes place on 19-20 May at the Harrogate International Conference Centre.

More than 300 delegates will attend the two-day conference. Topics under discussion will include:

  • The Government's white paper on the national Skills Strategy and 14-19 agenda
  • The role of work-based learning within the National Skills Strategy
  • Strategies to increases participation, retention, and achievement for government supported learning initiatives
  • Opportunities for further regional partnerships with key stakeholders in the learning and skills sector

Keynote speakers are Alan Johnson MP, Minister of State for Lifelong Learning; Graham Hoyle, Chief Executive of ALP; Chris Humphries, Director General of City and Guilds; Mark Haysom, Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council, and Martin Havenhand, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Forward. They will be joined by Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of IIP UK; Susan Pember, Director of Apprenticeships and Skills for Life, and others.

The majority of the Association of Learning Provider's 380 members are private and voluntary sector training organisations. Membership is open to any provider committed to quality work based learning (WBL) and it includes over 50 FE colleges involved in WBL.

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