Apprenticeship funding rules for training providers
Apprenticeship funding rules are notoriously complex. As a training provider, you have to make sure you follow the rules around recognised prior learning, off-the-job training and end-point assessment – otherwise, you could get in trouble with the ESFA and even have your funding taken back.
So, let’s jump right in. Here are some rules to follow when you’re claiming apprenticeship funding.
It may seem strange to start at the end, but since the rules were updated in October 2019, providers can’t claim funding for an apprentice unless the standard they’re completing has an EPAO in principal in place. You’ll need to factor in the cost of the EPA into your funding claim anyway, so it’s worth preparing in advance.
Recognition of prior learning
Okay, back to the beginning. You must conduct an initial assessment of the apprentice’s prior learning to find out if the apprentice requires significant new knowledge, skills and behaviours to be occupationally competent in the job role. You must then quantify and evidence the prior learning and make adjustments to the course duration and off-the-job hours to make sure apprentices aren’t repeating learning.
You also need to adjust your funding claim according to the apprentice’s prior learning. The ESFA says; ‘Apprenticeship funding should not be used to pay for, or accredit, existing knowledge, skills and behaviours’ – which means they won’t pay for any repeated learning and will even take action to clawback apprenticeship funding where this happens. This means the RPL is crucial.
If you adjust the duration, off-the-job and funding according to the RPL and find that the apprenticeship would take less than the minimum duration to complete, you must not claim funding. The apprentice isn’t right for the course and can’t be claimed against.
You also need to store evidence of the RPL in the evidence pack. You’ll need to demonstrate how prior learning has been taken into account to adjust the training, content, duration and cost.
You’ll need to claim funding against on-programme learning and off-the-job training. To be eligible for funding, you must make sure the apprentice spends at least 20% of their contracted hours on completing off-the-job training. You’ll need to work with the employer to plan the off-the-job training and negotiate the cost – making sure the training is directly relevant to the apprenticeship standard.
Every apprenticeship standard has a funding band. The upper limit of each band is the maximum amount of apprenticeship funding you can claim from the employer – either from their apprenticeship levy or their coinvested funds. Anything above the funding band must be paid using the employer’s own funds.
When you’ve recognised the apprentice’s prior learning and adjusted the course content, duration and price accordingly, you’ll know how much apprenticeship funding to claim. You'll then need to calculate your delivery expenses to find out if the apprenticeship will be profitable to you as a provider.
Negotiating with the employer
If you want to increase the price of your apprenticeship delivery, you’ll need to add more value. Will you stretch and challenge the apprentice? Will they complete any skills competitions? Are there any mandatory qualifications? As long as it’s relevant to the standard and paid for by the employer, you can negotiate extras into your price.
When it comes to apprenticeship funding in 2020, recognising prior learning is really important. The RPL affects the apprenticeship content, duration, off-the-job hours and funding – so it’s got to be right.
With OneFile’s new RPL skills scan and funding calculator, you’ll be able to:
- Recognise prior learning against the standard
- Adjust course content, duration, off-the-job hours and funding drawdown
- Ensure maximum profitability
- Minimise the risk of clawback
You'll have auditable evidence of each apprentice's RPL and clear, audit-ready reports to show Ofsted and the ESFA how you've adjusted your funding claims based on prior learning.