Apprenticeships, Skills, Children And Learning Bill - continued          House of Lords

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Clause 88: Encouragement of education and training for persons aged 19 or over and others subject to adult detention

262.     This clause sets out the Chief Executive’s general duty to encourage participation by individuals and employers in education and training amongst people aged 19 or over and others in adult detention.

The apprenticeship scheme

Clause 89: Duty to secure availability of apprenticeship places

263.     The Chief Executive has a specific duty to secure sufficient apprenticeship places for every suitably qualified person within one of the categories of people eligible for the scheme 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.

Clause 90: Election for apprenticeship scheme

264.     This specifies the eligibility criteria for persons who may elect for the apprenticeship scheme, and provides that a person who elects for the scheme should select two apprenticeship sectors for the purposes of the scheme. Each sector will contain a number of different frameworks. The intention is that the sectors will follow those of the Sector Skills Councils.

265.     To be eligible for the scheme a person has to satisfy the apprenticeship scheme requirements at level 2 or level 3, as set out in clause 93. The person must also be aged between 16 to 18, or be a person aged 21 towards whom a local authority owes duties under section 23C of the Children Act 1989, or a person towards whom a local authority owes duties under section 23CA of that Act.

266.     A person aged under 21 to whom a local authority owes duties under section 23C of the Children Act 1989 will be a “care leaver”: a person aged 18 or over, who has been looked after by the authority. A person to whom an authority owes duties under section 23CA of the Children Act 1989 will be a “care leaver” to whom the authority no longer owes duties under section 23C, but who wishes to pursue education or training: the duties provided for by section 23CA may continue to be owed until the person reaches the age of 25.

267.     The clause also provides that persons who satisfy the apprenticeship requirements at both level 2 and 3 must choose one of those levels.

Clause 91: Meaning of “apprenticeship place”

268.     This defines an apprenticeship place for the purposes of the apprenticeship scheme set out in clause 89. 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 92: Suitability and availability of apprenticeship places: further provision

269.     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 the starting point for establishing these ‘reasonable travel areas’ 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, where 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.

Clause 93: Apprenticeship scheme requirements and Clause 94: Apprenticeship scheme requirements: interpretation

270.     Clause 93 sets out the qualifications a person must have to elect for the apprenticeship scheme at level 2 or level 3, and Clause 94 contains definitions for the purposes of clause 93. These qualifications relate solely to the apprenticeship scheme and do not affect anyone’s 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 95: Suspension of scheme

271.     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 96: Power to amend apprenticeship scheme

272.     This clause allows the Secretary of State to amend the age in clause 90(2)(b) under which people other than care leavers are eligible for the apprenticeship scheme, currently set at 19. The clause also enables the Secretary of State to amend the level of qualification for the apprenticeship scheme. The power is exercisable by order, which will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

Clause 98: Provision of financial resources

273.     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 Executive’s 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.

274.     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.

275.     In exercising the powers under this clause, 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.

276.     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 State’s priorities. The Government anticipates that under this clause, 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.

Clause 99: Financial resources: conditions

277.     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)).

278.     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.

Clause 100: Performance assessments

279.     This clause re-enacts the performance assessment elements of section 9 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000, but conferring functions on the Chief Executive of Skills Funding rather than the LSC. It enables the Chief Executive to adopt or develop schemes for the assessment of the performance of individual providers of education and training. The Chief Executive may take this assessment into account when deciding which providers he or she will continue to fund under powers in clause 98.

Clause 101: Means tests

280.     This clause re-enacts the means testing elements of section 9 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000, but conferring functions on the Chief Executive of Skills Funding rather than the LSC. It enables the Chief Executive to carry out means tests or arrange for others to do so in order to establish how much financial support students may be eligible to receive in respect of the costs of education or training, which may include childcare or transport costs, or where living costs are a concern.

Clause 102: Assistance and support in relation to apprenticeship places

281.     This clause places a duty on the Chief Executive to provide or secure provision of services to assist people to find apprenticeships. The clause provides the statutory basis for the services provided by the National Apprenticeships Vacancy Matching Service launched in December 2008 which include a web based service for individuals, employers and providers which enables employers to advertise their apprenticeship vacancies through a national portal. The Government’s expectation is that the portal will provide information to assist people interested in apprenticeships to understand the opportunities that exist for them and where appropriate apply on-line for those opportunities that interest them.

Clause 103: Advice and assistance in relation to apprenticeships

282.     This clause allows the Secretary of State to require Chief Executive of Skills Funding to provide advice and assistance to enable the Secretary of State to discharge responsibilities for statutory apprenticeships set out in Chapter 1 of Part 1. These include responsibility for the specification of apprenticeship standards for England and giving directions and guidance in relation to the issue of English frameworks.

Clause 104: Provision of services

283.     This clause re-enacts section 11 of the Further Education and Training Act 2007, but conferring functions on the Chief Executive of Skills Funding rather than the LSC. It provides the powers for the Chief Executive to provide services for individuals and to bodies exercising education and training functions in relation to those functions. It enables the Chief Executive to offer support services such as management information systems, software management systems, payroll administration, human resources functions, finance services and procurement services, including to people and to bodies outside England where that is appropriate, and required by the devolved administrations. Such services may include the provision of accommodation or facilities where that is appropriate to the delivery or provision of the service.

284.     The Chief Executive may provide these services to: publicly-funded education and training providers (including schools and universities); publicly-funded institutions that have functions relating to the provision of education and training; and persons or bodies specified by order (who may or may not be publicly funded but have functions relating to education or training).

285.     Subsection (3) provides that the terms and conditions of such arrangements may include provision for making payments to the Chief Executive in respect of costs incurred in performing any function under the arrangements. This might be used where the delivery of services requires the Chief Executive to incur costs that might not normally be incurred in the delivery of services in England alone. This might include costs associated with adapting systems, providing “additional” services, or simply providing the service to devolved administrations.

286.     Subsection (4) defines “permitted recipients”, which are those persons with whom the Chief Executive may make arrangements under this clause and subsection (8) defines “the appropriate national authority”.

287.     The orders specifying additional persons or bodies may be made by the Secretary of State or, where a person or body has education and training functions only in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, by the relevant devolved administration.

288.     In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, these services will be supplied only with the consent of the respective devolved administrations. Separate consent will be required from each administration for each type of service.

289.     The Chief Executive will need to obtain the consent of the Secretary of State before making arrangements to provide support services to a person or body operating in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

290.     An example of such a support service is the Further Education Data Service which the Government intends that the Chief Executive will operate as a shared service across the Further Education and skills sector. This service will collect information from colleges and providers and produce and disseminate reports on performance of the further education sector to all those with a direct interest in the performance of particular colleges and providers, for example the colleges and providers themselves; local education authorities and the Young People’s Learning Agency.

291.     Another example of such a support service is the Managing Information Across Partners (MIAP) Learner Registration and Learner Record Service through which the Chief Executive will provide services, when requested to do so, which support the sharing of data with the aim of benefiting of individual learners. The Chief Executive will manage these services on behalf of participating partners. The Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Government have already asked the LSC to provide such services and this clause will enable the Chief Executive to carry out the same functions.

Clause 105: Assistance with respect to employment and training, Clause 106: Assistance with respect to employment and training: Northern Ireland

292.     Clauses 105 and 106 give the Chief Executive the same powers as the LSC currently has under section 12 and 13 of the Further Education and Training Act 2007, to allow him or her to take part in arrangements in relation to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for assisting persons to select, train for, obtain and retain employment. Consent of the Welsh and Scottish administrations will be required for arrangements made by the Secretary of State in relation to Wales and Scotland. The consent of the Secretary of State will be required for arrangements made by all the devolved administrations which involve the Chief Executive. Arrangements may include a loans scheme for learners such as Career Development Loans (CDLs) or its successor Professional and Career Development Loans (under which commercial lenders provide loans to help pay for learning) which operate throughout Great Britain and are currently administered by the LSC on behalf of the devolved administrations.

Clause 107: Research, information and advice

293.     This clause sets out the role of the Chief Executive in relation to research and the provision of information and advice, and the establishment of systems for collecting information. The Chief Executive has a duty to report to the Secretary of State on such matters as the Secretary of State may require. In practice, this is likely to include information about progress towards the Government’s targets and priorities in connection with post-19 learning; a description of the Chief Executive’s learning and skills funding strategy; and information on the application of funding. This will also include information about apprentices aged 16 to 18.

294.     Subsection (4) gives the Chief Executive the power to provide information to any person designated by the Secretary of State, in relation to a function of the Chief Executive. This will, for instance, enable the Chief Executive to provide the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) (if so designated) with information to assist with the establishment and maintenance of the framework of qualifications and monitoring of the standards of qualifications.

295.     Subsection (6) allows the Chief Executive to secure the provision of facilities and services for providing information, advice or guidance about education or training or connected matters.

Clause 108: Power to confer supplementary functions on Chief Executive

296.     This clause enables the Secretary of State to confer by order additional functions on the Chief Executive, which are connected to the functions of the Secretary of State and relevant to the provision of facilities for education or training within the remit of the Chief Executive.

Chapter 3: Chief Executive’s functions: supplementary

Strategies

Clause 109: Strategies for functions of Chief Executive

297.     This clause re-enacts with modifications, existing powers under section 24A of the Learning and Skills Act 2000. It allows the Secretary of State by order to specify an area of England as an area for which a specified body (which could either be a body that already exists or one which is specifically set up), to put in place and keep under review a strategy for how education and training for those persons that the Chief Executive is responsible for, will be delivered. This would typically be a city region, for which a specified body — for example, an Employment and Skills Board — is able to set out a strategy for the actions of the Chief Executive in that particular area. The Secretary of State may not specify an area comprising Greater London or a part of it because specific powers in respect of Greater London apply and are set out in clause 109.

298.     Subsection (4) allows the Secretary of State to give directions and guidance to the specified body in relation to the formulation and review of its strategy, including such matters as form and content of the strategy, updating and reviewing the strategy and those bodies which need to be consulted on the formulation and review of the strategy. The specified body must comply with any directions and have regard to any guidance given by the Secretary of State.

299.     Subsection (6) allows the Chief Executive to reimburse this body for costs and expenses it incurs in formulating and reviewing its strategy.

Clause 110: Strategy for functions of Chief Executive: Greater London

300.     This clause re-enacts with modifications section 24B of the Learning and Skills 2000 (which was inserted by the Further Education and Training Act 2007) This clause requires the Secretary of State to provide, by regulations, for the establishment of a London body to formulate a strategy setting out how certain functions of the Chief Executive are to be carried out in Greater London and keep it under review.

301.     The body that is established must include the Mayor of London and other members appointed by the Mayor in accordance with the regulations and the Mayor must be the chairman of the body.

302.     Under subsection (4), the Secretary of State may give directions and guidance to the London body in relation to the formulation and review of the strategy, including such matters as the form and content of the strategy; updating it; procedures to be followed when formulating or reviewing the strategy; and the consultation procedures to be followed.

303.     The London body must act in accordance with any such directions and have regard to guidance given by the Secretary of State (subsection (5)) and it must publish the strategy, or the revised strategy (subsection (6)).

304.     The Chief Executive may contribute to costs and expenses incurred by the London body or the Greater London Authority (subsections (8) and (9)).

Clause 111: Strategies: duty of Chief Executive

305.     This clause puts the Chief Executive under a duty to implement any strategy formulated by a body set up under the powers contained in clauses 109 and 110.

306.     The clause sets out circumstances in which the Chief Executive may refuse to comply with the strategy. This might be for example where the strategy has been formulated without compliance with any directions or regard to guidance concerning its formulation or review. If provision in a strategy conflicts with provisions of strategies of different specified bodies, the Chief Executive may disregard relevant provision in one or both of the strategies (subsection (4)).

307.     The Chief Executive is not required to carry out his or her functions in accordance with a strategy in a manner that he or she is satisfied might involve disproportionate cost or in a manner which he or she considers to be unreasonable (subsection (6)).

308.     The Chief Executive may not carry out a function in accordance with a strategy if to do so would mean failing to comply with a duty imposed on him or her by or under any enactment (subsection (3)). Where the Chief Executive proposes not to, or does not, carry out a function in compliance with a strategy, the Chief Executive must refer the matter to the Secretary of State (and the strategy setting body may also refer the matter to the Secretary of State) (subsection (7)). In such circumstances, the Secretary of State may give such direction to the Chief Executive as he or she thinks fit regarding the carrying out of that function (subsection (8)).

Clause 112: Persons aged 19 or over with learning difficulties

309.     This clause provides that in performing the functions of the office, the Chief Executive must have regard to the needs of persons who are aged 19 or over who have learning difficulties but who are not subject to a learning difficulty assessment (under section 139A of the Learning and Skills Act 2000). “A learning difficulty” is defined in subsections (2) and (3).

Clause 113: Persons subject to adult detention

310.     This clause provides that the Chief Executive must have regard to the needs of persons in prisons and adult young offender institutions in the performance of the functions of the office.

Clause 114: Use of information by Chief Executive

311.     This clause provides that the Chief Executive must have regard to any information which has been provided by a person designated by the Secretary of State for the purposes of this section.

Clause 115: Guidance

312.     This clause sets out a requirement similar to that on the Learning and Skills Council in section 14A of the Learning and Skills Act 2000 (inserted by section 7 of the Further Education and Training Act 2007). It places a duty on the Chief Executive to have regard to any guidance given by the Secretary of State. In particular, guidance may relate to consultation with learners, potential learners (who fall within the Chief Executive’s remit) and employers; and taking advice from such persons or descriptions of persons as may be specified in the guidance. In relation to consultation with learners and potential learners, the guidance must provide for the views of such persons to be considered in the light of their age and understanding.

Clause 116: Directions: funding of qualifications

313.     This clause provides for the Secretary of State to direct the Chief Executive to secure (by way of imposing a condition) that funding he provides is not used to make payments in respect of certain specified qualifications. The direction from the Secretary of State would be expected to specify the qualification or qualifications which he considers to be inappropriate for public funding and should therefore be excluded, and may set out the details under which financial resources should not be provided, such as a course leading to a qualification, or exam fees for a qualification.

314.     Subsection (2) defines the terms “an excluded payment” and “relevant institution or employer” for the purposes of this clause.

315.     The overall purpose of the clause is to ensure that the funding provided by the Secretary of State to the Chief Executive is used to fund qualifications which the Secretary of State thinks are appropriate to receive public funding, and provides a mechanism for the Secretary of State to prevent the public funding of qualifications where he deems it inappropriate to provide such funding.

 
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Prepared: 7 May 2009