The LCA has been a strong supporter of the Water Treatment Apprenticeship scheme as we recognise the positive impact it would have had on the standards of training and competence in our industry. Regrettably there have been several government funding changes that mean the scheme is no longer viable. The focus appears to have moved to college based basic apprenticeships, rather than highly technical apprenticeships that can only be delivered by industry professionals.
In August the government announced changes to funding rules and the apprenticeship training provider postponed the start date of the WT Apprenticeship Programme as there was a lack of clarity from government on the detail.
The two main clarification questions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) based on the changes they announced in August were:
i) Changes to off the job training funding
ii) Changes to the time required from the employer for the apprentice to obtain functional Skills Qualifications if required.
- Infield practice and learning with the employer is no longer classed as part of the off the job training for the apprenticeship. This means 20% of the apprentices’ time must now be spent with an ESFA registered training provider. This equates to 96 days in formal training over the two years of the programme.
- The employer must now allow the apprentice time to obtain functional skills in Maths and English, if required, during their working hours. This is in addition to the training detailed in a) above. Each qualification could require up to an additional 12 days in the first year, or a further 24 days if both are required.
- In addition, the ESFA now require the training provider to have a central training venue which they will inspect at very short notice. This will considerably increase travel time and costs for apprentices.
Due to these factors the apprenticeship training provider made the difficult decision not to go ahead with the Level 3 Water Treatment Technician apprenticeship scheme at this stage.
For LCA members this now means there is no longer a funded route to apprenticeship training and qualification. Members will need to continue to provide training for their staff in line with LCA code of conduct requirement 2.1.