Why can’t I use my Apprenticeship Levy ‘pot’ for your course?

Why can’t I use my Apprenticeship Levy ‘pot’ for your course?

We have spoken to a number of you recently who are very interested in our BSc Degree course in Construction Management, especially as it offers a direct route to CIOB membership. However you’re frustrated that you can’t use your Apprenticeship Levy funds to pay for it, at least at the moment. We share your frustrations!

And here’s the reason that you can’t use those funds on our course or, in fact, on any other HNC or BSc course from any other provider developed under the Trailblazer standards…

The relevant standards have still not been approved for delivery.

That means, simply put, they’re not YET eligible for funding under the Apprenticeship Levy. They should be, and will be once the government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BIS) gives them the green light. But that is still to happen, so it’s a No from them, at least for now.

What does this mean and when will it change?

It means that for now, until the standards are approved, we can still offer the course but it won’t be classified as an apprenticeship and students will need to be funded by their employer. The good news is that employers have been entitled to CITB attendance grants that typically offset the full amount of the course fees. And it is hoped this will continue to be available for the next academic year (starting September 2017).

Another positive is that as soon as the standards are approved and we have gained any other signs offs required, we can move them onto an Apprenticeship programme that you can fully fund from your Apprenticeship Levy account, or, if you don’t pay the Levy, you can get government funding for at least 90% of the course fees.

In our view, realistically the government has missed the boat for courses starting in September for the next academic year. We know we will struggle massively to clear all the hurdles in time for September even if the standards were approved tomorrow. We are confident other providers will too as we are very fast and agile in getting courses up and running (as witnessed by the speed we were able to establish the BSc course last year and gain CIOB accreditation at the same time).

So practically, the first time you will be able to spend your levy funds on Construction related Higher and Degree Apprenticeships conforming to the Trailblazer standards will be for the academic year starting in 2018.

And that assumes the standards get approved in 2017.

Is that likely? It should be, but we have been given the same assurances now for about the last 18 months. Nevertheless the employer-led Trailblazer committee assures us that we are getting closer.

To help you understand the issues I’ll have to fill you in on some of the process to date. Bear with me as the story is a rather long and laborious one!

In 2014 an employer-led group developed ‘Trailblazer Standards’ for Construction covering  the following occupations

  • Building Services Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Construction Supervision/Management (and Planning)
  • Design Co-ordination/Management
  • Quantity Surveying (and Estimating)

The standards were designed to create highly skilled employees who can contribute to the success of complex construction projects by demonstrating skills, knowledge and behaviours in key aspects of project control and management in both common and specific areas. They all featured end testing  grading, 20% off-the-job training, with links to professional membership and qualifications optional.

Although the BIS approved these standards in December 2014 that was not the end of it. They needed to be ‘Approved for Delivery’, and still do. This means developing an Assessment Plan and having that approved.  Unfortunately the original plan was knocked back and the Trailblazer Group had to make some radical changes. These were submitted in March 2017, but again they were not passed.

The group is currently making further changes to meet the list of objections and expects to re-submit shortly.  Given past experiences, we expect the earliest that this process will be finished and a result known will be end of July. As we are in the middle of an election and we can’t know the direction and priorities of any new government, even this timing is probably very optimistic.

So, we just have to sit and wait, grin and bear it. All the while, if you’re a levy payer, your digital account balance will be growing. However, be assured that as soon as we can give you an opportunity to use these funds for our BSc in Construction Management and Construction Site Management Degree Apprenticeship, we will!

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