Three private training providers have been slammed by Ofsted over the past week for failing to meet apprenticeship off-the-job training rules.
England’s biggest apprenticeship provider, Lifetime Training, was among those criticized for not meeting the requirement in a grade three report published last Friday.
One To One Support Services Limited, which provides domiciliary care services, was also slated for off-the-job shortcomings in an ‘inadequate’ full inspection, while new provider Next Level Impact Limited received an ‘insufficient’ rating following an early monitoring visit.
Under current Education and Skills Funding Agency rules apprenticeship providers must ensure apprentices spend at least 20 per cent of their working week doing off-the-job training.
Ofsted found that Lifetime Training apprentices “too often” spend their own time completing their off-the-job training assignments at home outside of work hours.
Carl Cornish, Lifetime’s chief operating officer, said the “unexpected number” of apprentices not getting their entitlement to high-quality off-the-job training was due to the “challenges brought by the pandemic”, including increased staff turnover rates and high sickness and absence, particularly in the hospitality and care sectors.
One To One Support Services Limited, which now faces being booted off the government’s register of apprenticeship training providers owing to its grade four, was also called out by Ofsted after finding that most apprentices “study in their own time, and this impacts negatively on their progress and personal lives ”.
However, a spokesperson for the provider said they did not feel Ofsted’s report “accurately reflects the work we have done, and continue to do – particularly in the support that we have provided over the last few very difficult years”.
“In the health and social care sector employers have experienced extreme challenges in staffing to release the off-the-job hours for their employees,” the spokesperson said.
“Whilst we do acknowledge that there are areas where we can improve – and, naturally, always seek to develop, we do not recognize the comments made in the report, particularly when we have spoken to managers and apprentices and, it appears, the inspectors based their report on very limited access to both, resulting in an inspection that poorly reflected the work carried out in engaging employers in sectors where employer engagement is difficult to maintain. ”
Next Level Impact, which is based in Belfast but trains eight apprentices on the level 5 departmental manager standard in Norfolk, was criticized for not working “effectively” with employers to plan off-the-job training and for failing to ensure employers understand the requirement .
“Most apprentices have struggled to complete their self-study off-the-job training hours. They do not receive enough time from their employers to study away from their work duties, ”Ofsted said.
“Additionally, leaders do not check the quality of the self-study training activities that apprentices carry out.”
Next Level Impact’s leaders also faced criticism for having planned a program that places too much emphasis on apprentices completing their level 5 Chartered Management Institute diploma qualification rather than their apprenticeship.
“Leaders have been slow to plan activities that would substantially enhance the wider apprentice learning experience,” Ofsted said.
Next Level Impact, which now faces a suspension on apprentice recruitment, was approached for comment.