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ELWa announces training allocations to new provider network
ELWa, the National Council for Education and Training for Wales, has announced how it intends to allocate £110 million this year across the network of training firms that has been put in place to upskill the Welsh workforce.
Letters have gone out this week outlining the amount of training places that ELWa expects each training company to deliver across a range of key learning programmes. These allocations follow the most extensive competitive tender exercise ever undertaken in Wales to deliver work based learning programmes to tens of thousands of learners on behalf of ELWa.
This process has replaced the system ELWa inherited from the TECS where work based learning contracts were placed with a pool of training providers. According to ELWa, this system prevented new providers entering the network and did not ensure best value for the taxpayers' money.
Since 2001 the lifelong learning body has taken small incremental steps to harmonise the unit prices across work based learning programmes and the four ELWa regions and has set prices at an average cost to create a level playing field across Wales.
ELWa's Director of Learning, Mike Hopkins said: "All the providers, including a number of new training companies who have now joined the network, have demonstrated their ability to deliver training through the initial stage of the tender process where we put each company through a rigorous pre-qualification exercise. Our interests then lay in protecting learners from experiencing any disruption by guaranteeing a flexible, high quality network of firms to deliver training to young people and adults across Wales and across all the different industry sectors.
"It has been a huge piece of work for everyone involved but will lead to a more equitable and transparent way of using the public purse to fund post 16 learning. The process has also been evaluated at different stages by independent assessors who have praised the exercise for its openness and transparency and have identified a number of areas where the organisation can use this model as an example of best practice."
Mr Hopkins also added that although many providers may not receive the volumes they requested in their bids, the numbers have been awarded to all successful tenderers equitably. Where weaknesses have been identified, the training provider will be asked to address them by working with ELWa through a detailed action plan.
The tender process and harmonised price has also enabled ELWa to bid for over £50 million from the European Social Fund (ESF) for work-related learning over the next three years. This will fund additional teenagers and adult workers benefiting from skills programmes such as Modern Apprenticeships, Foundation Modern Apprenticeships and Modern Skills Diplomas.
In addition, this approach will also pave the way for the introduction of the National Planning and Funding System, which is designed to link spending on post-16 learning directly to the skill needs of different parts of Wales.
ELWa officers will now liase with training providers to sign contracts that will run from August 2004 to September 2005, with the option to extend for a further two years.
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