Apprenticeships in the academy sector

29 January 2024

It’s crucial that businesses have the right skills at all levels of the firm. With increased competition for new skilled workers, and increasing skills gaps with existing employees, there is a growth opportunity for high quality apprenticeships.

The range of job roles offered within academies aligns well to apprenticeships. Academies apprenticeship providers are focusing on training academic/education staff through apprenticeships in teacher training, coaching and early years practitioners, or through apprenticeship programmes for support staff including, leadership and management, administration, finance, facilities and IT. 

With over 1,500 training providers approved to deliver apprenticeships on the Apprenticeship Provider and Assessment Register (APAR), the marketplace is highly competitive. Despite this, more academies are entering the apprenticeship marketplace as an opportunity to develop their own workforce themselves, or as an extension of the current service offering to employers and a growth area.

The delivery of apprenticeships provision has many challenges including funding arrangements, funding rules, delivery models and all year-round delivery. This means that monitoring and calculating year performance, without any tolerance or being free from error, is unlikely. Academies need to consider their product offering ensuring there is a balance between profitability, quality of product and engagement. There are risks that if the apprenticeship provision is poorly managed and of a poor quality there will be low student success rates and a poor student experience. 

It is critical to have clear metrics with monitoring arrangements in place to determine how effective business processes are to manage risk for all aspects associated with apprenticeships and ensure compliance with the apprenticeship funding rules. Where minimum standards are not achieved, there may be ESFA sanctions, while lost employer confidence may also lead to lost income. 

We recommend that all providers currently delivering apprenticeships, or considering an application to become a registered apprenticeship provider, consider the robustness and approach to:

  • accuracy and timeliness of funding returns;
  • approach to the calculation of course costings; 
  • business planning process for apprenticeships;
  • compliance with the ESFA funding rules;
  • current process and procedures for the apprenticeship journey, including business development, contracting and delivery;
  • fees policy and rationale;
  • financial monitoring framework;
  • performance management information available and how this is used; and
  • resource allocation and deployment.
Richard Lewis
Partner, Head of FE, Skills and Academies
Richard Lewis
Partner, Head of FE, Skills and Academies