"Trouble finding an apprentice? Here's why"
Last week, we were informed of another stumbling block on the government’s disaster-filled path towards putting a viable apprenticeship funding plan in place.
For those of you unfamiliar with this frustrating tale, a quick recap. the New Model Business Academy (NMBA) was one of the firms which last year applied for, and received, accreditation as an apprenticeship training provider, in order to support employers who wanted to take on apprentices. We then waited, on tenterhooks, for the time at which we’d be able to begin work shaping the desperately needed next generation of financial advisers. And waited.
Then, on 12 April, the government announced it had paused the procurement for funding for non-levy paying firms, before cancelling the funding allocations on 21 July. A new invitation to tender followed, which closed on 8 September; NMBA again underwent this arduous process.
We were due to receive an outcome for this on 21 November though, on the 17th we received an update informing us that the high volume of tenders meant a change to the timetable, and that the process to decide the allocation of funding has been postponed yet again, with no new date given.
Until that point, training providers won’t know if any funding is available, which hinders planning and ultimately delays employers bringing new blood into their businesses. A close look at the new funding plan suggests that even when we do receive an update, there will not be adequate funding available to meet demand.
It sounds so bureaucratically farcical that it could be funny, if it was not for the thousands of apprenticeship opportunities which had been wasted, across all business sectors, since this debacle began.
I met some firms when undergoing the first tender process which launched specifically to fulfil the needs of this apprenticeship scheme. Inevitably, as the funding has faltered, some of these training suppliers have gone out of business.
Financial advice desperately needs new blood, and the apprenticeship scheme seemed an ideal way to try and keep the sector alive. Whether last week’s news is simply (another) delay, or the death knell for the government’s plans, those involved urgently need to know.
The issues around the next generation of financial advisers are only getting worse with time; if government-funded apprenticeships aren’t the answer then we need a plan B – and quickly.
Tom Hegarty is managing director of the New Model Business Academy