|Apprenticeships, Skills, Children And Learning Bill - continued||House of Commons|
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210. Paragraph 1 provides that the holder of the office of Chief Executive will exercise the functions of the office on behalf of the Crown. It also provides that the office itself will be a corporation sole, so that any contracts entered into, or property owned by, the Chief Executive will pass automatically from one holder of the office to the next. Paragraph 2 sets out how the Chief Executive will hold and vacate office, and provides that the holder of the office will be a civil servant. Paragraphs 3 to 5 contain provision about the staff of the Chief Executive, who will form the Skills Funding Agency, These staff may either be appointed by the Chief Executive under paragraph 3, who will be civil servants, or be provided by the Secretary of State to the Chief Executive under paragraph 5. Paragraph 4 makes arrangements whereby the Chief Executive may delegate the functions of the office to members of the Chief Executives staff and to staff provided by the Secretary of State under paragraph 5. Paragraph 6 to 8 make provision for operational matters such as funding, including the payment of grants to the Chief Executive and how these must be accounted for, and the preparation and publication of annual reports and accounts.
211. Paragraph 9 sets out provision for supplementary powers and restrictions, and gives the Chief Executive additional general powers to enable him or her to perform the functions of the office. For example, these powers would allow the Chief Executive to acquire and dispose of land and other property, and enter into contracts. It also sets out those things that the Chief Executive may not do. So the Chief Executive may not borrow money and may not, without the prior consent of the Secretary of State, lend money; form, participate or invest in a company; or form, participate in forming, or become a member of a charitable incorporated organisation.
Clause 79: Apprenticeship functions
212. The Secretary of State may direct the Chief Executive of Skills Funding to designate a person to carry out apprenticeship functions on behalf of the Chief Executive. The Government expects that the person designated will be the Chief Executive of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS). The NAS will be a discrete service within the Skills Funding Agency, and the Chief Executive of the NAS and his staff will undertake the apprenticeship functions, including the duty to secure places for young people under the apprenticeship scheme (clause 83). Subsection (5) sets out the apprenticeship functions that may be carried out under this section.
213. This clause allows the Secretary of State to define and regulate the relationship between the two post holders, and to set out the functions that the Chief Executive of the NAS (or any other designated person) will be required to report to the Secretary of State on. The Secretary of State refers here to both the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.
214. All apprenticeship functions will be conferred by the Bill on the Chief Executive of Skills Funding. Where those functions are delegated to the Chief Executive of the NAS or another designated person, regulations under subsection (7) may make clear which statutory references should operate as references to the designated person, and may modify other statutory provisions.
Clauses 80: Apprenticeship training for persons aged 16 to 18 and certain young adults, Clause 81: Arrangements and co-operation with local education authorities
215. Clauses 80 and 81 set out the general powers relating to the provision of apprenticeship places for young people. The local education authorities will agree with the Chief Executive the amount and type of apprenticeship training required.
216. Within these general powers, the Chief Executive has a specific duty to secure sufficient suitable apprenticeship places for every suitably qualified young person aged 16-18 who wants one. This duty is set out as the apprenticeship scheme in clauses 83 to 91. A suitable place is in one of the two available chosen apprenticeship sectors, at the appropriate level, and within the reasonable travel area of the person concerned. The definitions and levels in these clauses relate solely to the apprenticeship scheme. The clauses do not define an apprenticeship, the characteristics of which are set out in the specification of apprenticeship standards in Part 1.
217. This clause enables the Chief Executive to secure the provision of facilities for apprenticeship training of young people, that is, people above compulsory school age but under 19 and those aged 19 or over but under 25 who are subject to a learning difficulty assessment. These are the people for whose training and education local education authorities will be responsible under section 15ZA of the Education Act 1996 (inserted by clause 40 of the Bill). This apprenticeship training will be provided in response to the need for such training agreed with the local education authorities.
218. Apprenticeship training is defined as training provided in connection with an apprenticeship agreement, any other contract of employment or other kinds of working which may lead to the award of apprenticeship certificates.
219. This clause enables the Chief Executive to enter into arrangements with local education authorities when securing apprenticeship training for young people. It also requires the Chief Executive to co-operate with local education authorities when deciding on the number of places for apprenticeship training to be secured. The arrangements need to enable local education authorities to meet their responsibilities under clause 40 of the Bill and to enable the Chief Executive to meet demand for apprenticeship places under the apprenticeship scheme in accordance with clause 83.
220. This sets out the general duty on the Chief Executive to promote apprenticeships for young people to employers, and encourage them to employ young people as apprentices.
221. The Chief Executive has a specific duty to secure sufficient apprenticeship places for every suitably qualified young person who wants one. This duty is one of the apprenticeship functions which is expected to be delegated to the Chief Executive of the National Apprenticeship Service. The arrangements for fulfilling this duty are set out in the following clauses and are known as the apprenticeship scheme. Subsection (3) allows the Secretary of State to prescribe when the duty has or has not been met.
222. This specifies the eligibility criteria for persons who may elect for the apprenticeship scheme, and provides that the person who elects for the scheme should select two apprenticeship sectors for the purposes of the scheme. Within each sector there will be a number of different frameworks. The intention is that the sectors will follow those of the Sector Skills Councils. It also provides that persons who satisfy the apprenticeship requirements at both level 2 and level 3 must choose one of those levels.
Clause 85: Meaning of apprenticeship place
223. This defines an apprenticeship place for the purposes of the apprenticeship scheme set out in clause 83. A place consists of arrangements comprising both a place on a training course and a place for employment under an apprenticeship agreement, which together relate to an English framework (clause 13).
Clause 86: Suitability and availability of apprenticeship places: further provision
224. This makes provision about the suitability and availability of apprenticeship places and defines what is meant by the appropriate level of an apprenticeship place and reasonable travel area. Under subsection (6) the Secretary of State must specify areas; the Government intends that that these will be the travel to work areas (TTWAs) defined by the Office for National Statistics. TTWAs were introduced to provide self contained labour markets and indicate an area within which the population would generally commute for the purposes of employment. The Government expects that that the duty to secure places will usually enable young people to take places within the specified area in which a person lives; and only exceptionally, where there neither choice of sector cannot be met because there are very few or even no employers in those sectors in the specified area, the Chief Executive might reasonably conclude that travel outside the specified area is warranted to take up a place.
225. This clause sets out the qualifications a person must have to elect for the apprenticeship scheme at level 2 or level 3, and Clause 88 contains definitions for the purposes of this clause. These qualifications relate solely to the apprenticeship scheme and do not affect anyones ability to work towards an apprenticeship certificate outside the apprenticeship scheme. The clause also specifies that a person must be available for employment under an apprenticeship agreement and allows regulations which will be subject to the negative resolution procedure, to set out what that means.
Clause 89: Suspension of scheme
226. The Secretary of State may suspend the apprenticeship scheme in a specified geographical area in relation to particular apprenticeship sector or at a particular level for up to two years. This would allow the duty to secure suitable apprenticeship places to be suspended where the economic difficulties, or other circumstances, are so severe that it cannot be fulfilled.
Clause 90: Power to amend apprenticeship scheme
227. This allows the Secretary of State to amend the age range or level of qualification for the apprenticeship scheme by order, which will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.
228. This clause sets out the general duty of the Chief Executive to secure the provision of reasonable facilities for the education and training of people aged 19 or over, (other than those aged under 25 who are subject to learning difficulty assessment)and those who are detained in a prison or an adult young offender institution. Facilities are reasonable if they are of a quality and quantity which the Chief Executive can reasonably be expected to provide taking account of the resources available to him or her (subsection (3)).
229. The duties do not extend to higher education, which is the responsibility of the Higher Education Funding Council. This is because the Education Act 1996 applies for the interpretation of this Part, and section 1(4) of that Act excludes higher education from its ambit.
230. The duty includes funding and securing delivery of education and training for those detained in prisons and adult young offender institutions, whether sentenced to imprisonment or committed to prison on remand or pending trial or otherwise. This aligns the Chief Executives responsibilities with the age arrangements for holding prisoners within the criminal justice system, thereby avoiding shared responsibility for learning delivery between local education authorities and the Chief Executive in individual establishments. Local education authorities will be responsible for all those detained within the youth criminal system (which includes nearly all those aged 17 year and under, and those aged 18 who are close to the end of their sentence and who will therefore not transfer to adult prisons). Where a person in adult detention has already begun education or training, the Chief Executive must have regard to the desirability of those persons continuing such programmes whilst in custody. Feasibility of such provision as well as budgetary considerations may be taken into account.
231. Subsection (4) sets out the factors the Chief Executive must take into account in exercising his or her duty under subsection (1), which include ensuring that the education and training required by different employment and industry sectors are met. It also requires the Chief Executive to act with a view to encouraging diversity in education and training; and to increasing opportunities for individuals to exercise choice.
232. The Chief Executive should make the best use of resources and avoid provision which might give rise to disproportionate expenditure. Disproportionate expenditure is that which, although not necessarily wasteful, is too much or too little in view of the overall functions and expenditure of the Chief Executive. For example, in respect of courses for which there are high levels of demand fairly consistently across the country, the duty would be satisfied if provision for learners and employers (via Train to Gain) were accessible widely across many institutions and with a good regional distribution. This position would differ where demand both for courses and for skills is more limited, and for these the Chief Executive must have regard to proportionate expenditure. Meeting this duty may require, for example, a more limited offer of places concentrated in geographical areas with links to a particular industry sector. Learners (and employers) seeking to access these more unusual courses may need to travel to take up the offer of a course.
233. No distinction is drawn between full-time and part-time education in the provision that the Chief Executive must secure.
234. Organised leisure time occupation is defined in subsection (8). The Chief Executives duties in this regard do not apply to those who are detained in prison or adult young offender institutions; such facilities are provided by the prison or other institution.
235. Clauses 93, 94 and 95 re-enact section 86 of the Education and Skills Act 2008, but conferring functions on the Chief Executive rather than the LSC. Clause 93 places a duty on the Chief Executive to secure the provision of proper facilities (in contrast to the reasonable facilities provided for in clause 92) for education and training to enable adults who lack particular skills to obtain relevant qualifications. Subsection (4) of clause 93 defines proper facilities as those which are of a sufficient quantity and adequate quality to meet the reasonable needs of individuals. This clause effectively gives higher funding priority to those adults who lack certain particular skills to enable them to obtain relevant qualifications.
236. The broad standards of achievement (or learning aims) for this purpose are set out in Schedule 5. They are a specified qualification in literacy, a specified qualification in numeracy and a specified vocational qualification at level 2. The specification of the particular qualifications to which the duty applies will be in regulations.
237. The duty will apply only to a learners first qualification at the specified level. For example, the Chief Executive will not be under a duty to secure the provision of proper facilities for a learner with a level 2 National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in Beauty Therapy who then applies for a level 2 course in Hairdressing. However, the Secretary of State may by regulations made under clause 95 provide that despite having a specified qualification, a person is to be treated as not having that qualification. This could apply, for example, where an individual had achieved a school leaving qualification in English or maths but was later identified, as a result of diagnostic assessment, as having skills below the basic levels of literacy or numeracy.
238. The qualifications will be those at relatively low levels of learning, which are designed to equip people with basic and intermediate skills for work and everyday living
239. In performing the duty, the Chief Executive must take account of a number of factors, such as the education and training needs in different sectors of employment. The Chief Executive must also act with a view to encouraging diversity of education and training and to increasing opportunities for individuals to exercise choice; and must make the best use of resources, particularly with a view to avoiding provision which might give rise to disproportionate expenditure.
240. This clause places a duty on the Chief Executive to ensure that learners will not be liable to pay fees for courses of study provided as a result of clause 93. There are two categories of learners that the Government intends will not have to pay fees for their courses:
241. The intention is that these learners will not be liable to pay fees for these courses of study.
242. Fees include the course fees, but the Secretary of State may also specify in regulations, which will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, that other fees relating to the course; for example, examination fees and costs of diagnostic assessment, are included. Costs which are not fees (for example, the costs of buying books, equipment and materials) will not come within the scope of the duty.
243. Subsection (5) gives the Secretary of State the power to amend by order, which will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, the relevant provisions of this clause so as to vary the ages at which learners qualify for financial help under this section. This provides the flexibility, for example, to be able to adapt to changing economic conditions.
244. This clause sets out supplementary provisions relating to regulations relating to clauses 93 and 94. Regulations may make provision about the circumstances in which a person is to be treated as having or not having a particular qualification for the purposes of meeting the entitlement. It also provides that clauses 93 and 94 do not apply to people detained in prisons or adult young offender institutions.
245. The Schedule sets out the learning aims for people aged 19 or over, that is the broad categories from which qualifications may be specified as ones for which the Chief Executive must secure proper facilities (clause 93) or pay for tuition fees (clause 94).
246. These categories are:
247. The Secretary of State may by regulations specify particular qualifications or descriptions of qualifications which are to fall within scope of the duties. Qualifications which might be specified in regulations include the following:
248. The Secretary of State may amend the Schedule by order to specify that a particular category of qualification is no longer within scope of the duties or to add a new category of qualification. Any such amendment will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.
249. This clause sets out the Chief Executives general duty to encourage participation by individuals and employers in education and training amongst people aged 19 or over and others in adult detention.
250. This clause gives the Chief Executive powers to fund other persons for the purpose of fulfilling the duties and exercising the powers vested in the Chief Executive. It provides powers for the Chief Executive to pay persons who provide or are proposing to provide education or training within the Chief Executives remit, and to pay persons who may not be providers themselves but who supply services which support the delivery of such education and training by providers, for example, delivery of transport and other support services. The powers also provide for the Chief Executive to pay persons providing or proposing to provide information, advice or guidance about education or training or connected matters.
251. A person may be any natural or legal person and includes FE colleges, private and voluntary sector training providers and individuals. Subsection (1)(c) allows the Chief Executive to make direct grants to students.
252. In exercising the powers under this section, the Chief Executive may use his own financial resources - namely the grant provided by the Secretary of State; assist in the transfer of financial resources from one person to another; and do either of these jointly with other persons or assist in the transfer of financial resources from other persons who are acting jointly, for example, to jointly commission with other Government Departments, for example the Department for Work and Pensions, skills provision for people who have, or are likely to be made, redundant.
253. In order to fulfil his or her powers to fund colleges and providers, the Chief Executive will receive an annual letter setting out the available budget and the Secretary of States priorities. It is anticipated that under this section, the Chief Executive will exercise his or her funding powers in order to fund FE colleges, training providers and others for learning provision which responds to the choices of individuals and employers.
254. This clause permits the Chief Executive to attach conditions to the financial resources which he or she makes available. Subsection (2) provides that these conditions may in particular fall into three categories: information, operational or repayment. For example, information conditions may include a requirement to provide information to the Chief Executive or other persons so designated by the Chief Executive and could also enable the Chief Executive and designated persons to have access to the accounts and computers, for example, of funded persons (subsection (3)).
255. Subsections (4) and (5) define operational conditions; these include a requirement on the provider to charge fees by reference to specified criteria, the making of awards and recovery of costs from other persons in accordance with criteria established by the Chief Executive. Operational conditions may also place a requirement on a provider to make available provision which meets requirements identified in learning difficulty assessments conducted under section 139A or 140 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000.
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