The ROATP is expected to reopen for applications on 12 December 2018 and will stay open throughout the year with no closing date. The Department for Education and Education Skills Funding Agency have announced a redesign of the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) and promise that the tougher rules will ensure providers deliver high-quality apprenticeships.
The last time the ROATP opened was in October 2017, bringing the total number of successful applications to 2,588. Many established providers failed to seek approval in the previous rounds of applications, whereas some smaller providers and new businesses made it on. So, what is the secret to RoATP success and how can you be prepared for the application?
Decide on your route
Before applying to the register, you need to make the choice of which apprenticeship provider route to take, Employer, Supporting or Main Route…you can find some helpful information in our free Apprenticeship Starter Pack, and a brief overview below.
- Main route - Eligible for selection by levied employers to deliver apprenticeship training, or by another main provider to work as a subcontractor.
- Supporting route - Entry route to the apprenticeship market for organisations that offer a specialism, and providers who only want to deliver as a subcontractor.
- Employer - provider route - Employers who want to provide training to their own staff. They will have the flexibility to lead their own programme, or act as a subcontractor to their appointed main provider.
Sally Dale, Director at Ioda, who gained RoATP approval in March 2017, said:
“It was quite difficult working out which provider route to take…we ended up applying for the wrong route on the first round…on our third round applying we were accepted.”
Failure to prepare is preparing to fail
- Register for updates - Make sure that you have a Bravo account and that you know what your log-in details are, and that you are registered to receive alerts regarding apprenticeships and the RoATP. Bravo is the on-line portal that the ESFA use for this type of tendering activity.
- Assume they know nothing - You might assume that the ESFA know all about your company. They might, but for the purposes of tendering, treat your application as though they know nothing about you. Remember, the chances are that the person who is reviewing and scoring your application will have zero knowledge of your organisation, so it is important not to make any assumptions.
- Read the question - Make sure that you understand what the question is really asking and provide a complete answer. In addition, if you put some information in your answer to say question 5 and think that the same information is part of your answer to question 12, then put it in! Each question is scored independently, and you should not assume that the reviewer / scorer has remembered what you included in an earlier answer.
- Think finance - There is a financial form you will be required to complete, so have that information to hand
- Take your time - Always make sure that you assign enough time to complete the process. It always takes longer than you think to assemble and write the content, so however long you think it will take, double that time, and clear your diary!
What to expect from the application form
- The first part relates to factual information regarding the training provider. Most of the questions either request factual information, or yes / no answers
- The second part of the questionnaire requires answers within a limited word count to questions such as
- Quality – How are you going to ensure this?
- Delivery method – How will you deliver apprenticeships?
- Staffing structures – How are your teams structured, with a focus on ensuring effective delivery.
- If you are new to apprenticeships, how will you go about setting up your structures, delivery arrangements etc.
- The final part of the application asks you to complete a spreadsheet regarding the financial information / performance of your business. This element involves inputting data (eg turnover / costs / profit / gearing). This is a semi-automated process, where the spreadsheet calculates the financial status of your organisation.
The world count is strict, so think about the information you need to prioritise to ensure you cover all the detail required. You should not exceed the word count for any question, even by a few words, you may find that by exceeding the word or character count you have eliminated yourself.
What makes a successful application?
Keep up to date with any ESFA changes around the time of your application that may influence your answers, ensure that you are properly set up on Bravo and are registered to receive alerts. You can find thoughts and opinions on the latest updates on the sector on the Tribal Apprenticeship Information Hub.
Make sure that you draft your answers, read them through, check that you have answered all the questions, refine your answer, and read it through again.
We asked Sally for her thoughts on why Ioda were successful:
“We passed the first round, so when it came to our application to the second round, on a different route, we submitted the same responses. We were surprised when one of the questions failed and we had no feedback as to why. On our third round we altered all our responses to the questions and were finally accepted.”
Unfortunately, due to lack of feedback, it can be hard to determine just why exactly one provider is successful, and another fails, but keep at it and try again.
“We have had to go with the flow – as an organisation we are very familiar with interpreting public sector tender requirements and this felt very much the same.”
“For any organisation that wants to deliver apprenticeships, getting their RoATP application right is crucial for their business. No apprenticeship deliverer can afford to miss out or to get it wrong! The rules to an effective application are simple, be ready, answer the whole question, assume that you are writing for someone who knows nothing about your organisation, and never leave a job like this to the last minute. To ensure that your application is effective and will be successful, it is worth asking an external organisation with experience of this type of tendering, to review it before you press ‘Submit!’”