Are you ready to be an employer provider? Five things you need to consider.
If you’re considering becoming an employer provider you’ll need to apply to the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (ROATP). But before you do, it’s worth making these five components the basis of your feasibility study:
You will not only need to build your Apprenticeship Programme, but advertise to the Apprenticeship Service, recruit apprentices, deliver their training and manage their Individual Learning Records. Once you know what courses you want to deliver, you need to think about the data you need to collect to be compliant in your delivery – and what technology you will need to administer and deliver the course. The Government has specific detailed requirements for inspections. If you are new to the market, look for solutions that simplify this process, including those listed below, as well as suppliers that can support you on your journey:
- Learner Management System (LMS) - to deliver your course content and manage Individualised Learner Records.
- Information Management Services (IDAMS) - to gain access to the Skills Funding Service and the Hub
- Government Gateway - to create an account on the Apprenticeship Service site
- Apprenticeship Service - to manage your account as a Training Provider
- Apprenticeship Service - to manage your account as an employer
- Learner Record Service - to create Unique Learner Numbers (ULNs)
- Employer Data Service (EDS) - to find Employer Identifiers (ERNs)
What are you delivering and how does this effect your funding? How much funding will you need? The quality of your delivery and your quality of data is fundamentally about drawing down the right amount of funding and being ‘audit ready’.
As well as creating the content for the training course, provisioning for training of teachers/mentors/coaches, and implementing systems to deliver blended learning, each apprentice needs an Individualised Learner Record (ILR). The ILR shows what you are delivering, who are you delivering it to and how much you are being paid for it. When compliance visits occur, you will need to show that you are delivering what you said you would back at the provision planning stage. You will also need the data to hand in order to back this up.
"The Government has specific detailed requirements for inspections. If you are new to the market, look for solutions that simplify this process"
Throughout the process it is important that you self-monitor or use another service to have the facility in place to make sure – and evidence – that you are delivering a quality apprenticeship programme. Quick access to data is more important than it has ever been, and not only should data be accessible but it needs to be correct.
As well as making sure that your data is submitted correctly to draw down your levy funds, you will also need to ensure that you are keeping robust evidence to support that data in case of an audit. The ESFA monitors your data remotely and certain types of behaviours may cause your organisation to be flagged as ‘high risk’, triggering an audit. Entering data right the first time and on time is the best way to avoid this.
The single biggest risk factor for any employer provider is the failure to prioritise quality - both in terms of the experience that apprentices have and the judgements that Ofsted will ultimately make. Which is yet another reason for ensuring that you have the right tools, people, controls and processes in place well before you start delivering any apprenticeships.
"The quality of your delivery and your quality of data is fundamentally about drawing down the right amount of funding and being ‘audit ready’."
New employer providers will normally have their first full Ofsted inspection within 3 years of being funded (but you may also receive a monitoring or support and challenge visit). This doesn’t mean that preparation for inspection should only start when nearing the third year. The easiest way to prepare for a positive Ofsted inspection outcome is to build in quality monitoring and improvement processes as part of the business-as-usual delivery of your apprenticeships.
There is an increasing focus on quality since the launch of the RoATP and particular scrutiny of employer providers, with several recent high-profile media stories of big-name employers receiving Grade 4 Inadequate inspection results, seriously denting their brand.
The Common Inspection Framework (CIF) is a framework for measuring quality: deciding how you are going to evidence quality, what you’re going to measure and how often, is the easiest part of the process. Getting everyone in the organisation who is involved with your apprenticeship programme to buy into a culture where quality is a priority is the most difficult part, but also one of the most crucial.
If you’re still undecided as to whether you should join the ROATP, read our previous blog on the pros and cons of becoming an employer provider. If you think you’re ready to register with the ROATP, read our tips on how to successfully get onto the register.