The road haulage Trailblazer Group (TBG) is seeking a procedural review after being informed that just £6,000 has been allocated to fund two new LGV Driver Apprenticeships by the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education (IFATE).
In a letter to the TBG, IFATE said it considered that “the most appropriate funding band” for the apprenticeship in Category C and C+E licence training was £6,000.
It said: “The funding band is the maximum amount of government funding available to employers per apprentice for this apprenticeship standard.”
It added that the funding band maximum was “not a funding rate and that employers should negotiate with providers and agree a suitable price”.
The TBG has requested a procedural review of the decision following a meeting involving transport operators and industry bodies on 13 July.
A source close to the apprenticeship standard told motortransport.co.uk that IFATE calculated the figure after reviewing the situation for buses: “Why are they even comparing a PCV when it’s just one licence for them?” the source said. “We have two tests here: five days for the C licence and five days for the C+E. Certainly, it should have been another £1,500 to break even. Every single training provider will say we are losing money now.”
The source continued: “Are training providers going to want to conduct two licences at a loss, effectively? Some may do, because they want the business and will cut corners and the impact possibly is a lower pass rate.
“It’s very serious for the industry. The Trailblazer Group has been had over.”
Responding, TBG co-chair Gary Austin told motortransport.co.uk: “Every quote we supplied from independent training providers was above £7,000 so there’s something wrong here. And they were all within £400 of each other which is fair. We’re not trying to make money here.
“The training providers cannot provide a quality apprenticeship at that level. And if they don’t, they get struck off."
"The crazy thing is this is our money,” Austin continued. “We’re not asking the government for a handout or a grant. All we’re asking for is the money we’ve paid in; the money we’ve been told we have to pay in a levy to promote training. Let us have it then. Don’t tell us what we need, ask what we need - rather than saying, 'you must accept this' from people who don’t actually understand what we do.”
If the procedural review is granted, the outcome will not be known until November at the earliest.
“But it’s not a TBG delay,” Austin stressed, “we’re working on someone else’s timescale which is very frustrating for everyone in the industry.”
Austin called on more transport firms to join the TBG to strengthen its position. “We want more operators to get involved,” he said. “This is your money, this is the future of the industry and we need your input and support. If you can add a voice to this please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org."
Paul Spink, group development director of Skills for Logistics, said he had spoken with many of the training providers currently delivering LGV Driver Apprenticeships and the “overwhelming response” was that they would be unable to deliver a quality apprenticeship programme within the proposed funding band of £6,000.
“This new apprenticeship standard has two licences (Category C and C+E),” he said. “The comparable Passenger Transport Driver apprenticeship standard, which also has a £6,000 funding cap, only requires the apprentice to achieve one Category D licence.
“The licence acquisition training forms a large part of the off-the-job-training and is expensive to deliver. Even more so at this time due to Covid-19 as delivery is one to one as opposed to the usual two learners in the cab. There is additional time involved in cleaning of vehicles and equipment which reduces the training hours that can be delivered each day.
"Vehicle utilisation is further reduced by the DVSA’s decision to reduce testing from four down to three per day.”
Spink confirmed that training providers had carefully costed the apprenticeship programme on behalf of the Trailblazer Group and believe it would not be in the interests of employers or apprentices to offer a sub-standard programme at a cut price.
“If the funding band is confirmed at £6,000, training providers tell us that they will only be able to deliver if the employer makes an additional contribution,” he said. “Something which understandably, they would be reluctant to pay.”