Representing estates and facilities professionals operating within the  



Apprenticeship overhaul failing

The introduction of the apprenticeship levy and other reforms to the apprenticeship system are failing to deliver, according to a report from the Public Accounts Committee. The reforms were supposed to encourage businesses to recruit apprentices - and provide funding through the levy. The initiative aimed to increase productivity across the UK and develop the individual’s knowledge, skills and behaviour for their chosen occupation.


Within the NHS, many Trusts have not been drawing down on the levy that they have paid. At HEFMA’s Leadership Forum in May, Fiona Daly, National Sustainability and EFM Workforce Lead at NHS England & NHS Improvement, presented statistics collated from last year’s data collection across NHS Estates and Facilities. These statistics revealed there are just 416 apprentices in a total E&F workforce of 98,482 people. Fiona also revealed that one of the reasons for this is that Trusts are finding it difficult to access the funds. 


It seems the NHS is not alone in failing to pick up the pace over the recruitment of apprentices. The Public Accounts Committee reveals that the number of apprenticeship starts fell by 26% after the levy was introduced in April 2017 and, although the level is now recovering, the government will not meet its target of three million starts by March 2020.


The Public Accounts Committee has criticised the apprenticeship programme and its lack of progress, reporting that achievements so far are “out of kilter” with the original objectives of the Department of Education. It says opportunities for people with lower skills are actually diminishing and apprenticeship starts in disadvantaged communities have fallen. 


Concerns about the quality of the training have also been raised. The Public Accounts Committee says that one third of apprentices are being trained by providers who have been rated ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted and there are not enough assessors to meet the demand for end-of-apprenticeship assessments. 


The Committee has made a series of recommendations, including setting more stretching diversity targets and evaluating efforts to attract more women into STEM roles. 


NHS England & NHS Improvement is working with HEFMA and IHEEM to develop some health-specific modules that can be added to current FM engineering and non-engineering based apprenticeships to develop more tailored qualifications for healthcare.