ADSO has had queries from a number of Authorities about whether our training courses and qualifications are eligible to be funded by the Apprenticeship levy. These queries included the possibility of setting up a Trailblazer Group in order to establish a new Apprenticeship in Democratic Services. This was discussed at the ADSO Board meeting on 7th July and the following is intended to explain the ADSO position.
The ADSO Board in April 2016 agreed that the Certificate and Diploma would be taken off the national qualifications framework and that we would accredit our own qualifications. The reasons for this were:
- To remove the requirement for Assessors to gain their own qualification which causes additional pressure on their time and on the Centre to support them
- To provide more flexibility in updating and adapting the qualifications as legislation and sector requirements change
- Anecdotal evidence showed that learners and employers did not necessarily value the fact that the ADSO qualifications were on a national framework
ADSO fully supports the concept of apprenticeships within our sector but the above decision means, that the qualifications are not eligible for Apprenticeship funding.
Setting up a Trailblazer Group
Having done some research, the process is not set up for a professional body to take the lead in a Trailblazer group. Even if it was, we do not currently have the resources to do so. There are a number of restrictions for ADSO in the development of a new apprenticeship. We cannot for example require apprentices to become ADSO members or to undertake one of our qualifications. Plus, in order to provide assessment or training to support the apprenticeship, we would need to undertake a registration process. The Board has agreed that, while not taking the lead in setting up a Trailblazer Group, ADSO would be willing to be part of a Group and to support a new apprenticeship in Democratic Services if there were a group of employers willing and able to develop one.
The ADSO training programme
ADSO has had some queries about whether Authorities can use their Apprenticeship levy to pay for their employees to attend courses on the ADSO training programme. Our understanding is that, in order to do so, ADSO would need to become a registered training provider. Having looked at the criteria, it seems as though we would have to apply through the Supporting route as we would be delivering less than £50,000 of training each year and would be sub-contracted by employers to deliver the training. It is a complex application process with a financial health self-assessment tool and the need to prove capacity and competency to deliver, including safe-guarding of apprentices and meeting equality and diversity requirements. We would also need to provide a business case for undertaking this process to ensure that there it would be worthwhile for the Association and its members and it would need to be agreed by the ADSO Board.
As stated earlier, ADSO fully supports the idea of apprentices. Even though we do not think it is viable for us to take the lead, for the reasons given above, we want to do what we can. Therefore we are suggesting setting up a small working group of interested employers to discuss this further and, in particular, to consider how ADSO can support its members (and their employers) in this area and if it is worthwhile joining the register of accredited training providers.
Please contact Sue Keogh (email@example.com) if your authority is interested in taking part.