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Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009

The apprenticeship offer
Section 91: Duty to secure availability of apprenticeship places

274.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 offer 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 sections and are known as the apprenticeship offer. Subsection (3) allows the Secretary of State to prescribe when the duty has or has not been met.

Section 92: Election for apprenticeship offer

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

276.To be eligible for the offer a person has to satisfy the apprenticeship offer requirements at level 2 or level 3, as set out in section 95. The person must also be aged between 16 to 18; 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; or be a person of a prescribed description up to the age of 25.

277.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.

278.It is intended that the persons who will be described in regulations under section 92(4) will be persons who are subject to a learning difficulty.

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

Section 93: Meaning of “apprenticeship place”

280.This defines an apprenticeship place for the purposes of the apprenticeship offer set out in section 91. 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 (section 15).

Section 94: Suitability and availability of apprenticeship places: further provision

281.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.

Section 95: Apprenticeship offer requirements,Section 96: Apprenticeship offer requirements: interpretation

282.Section 95 sets out the qualifications a person must have to elect for the apprenticeship offer at level 2 or level 3, and Section 96 contains definitions for the purposes of section 95. These qualifications relate solely to the apprenticeship offer and do not affect anyone’s ability to work towards an apprenticeship certificate outside the apprenticeship offer. Under section 96(2) which qualifications count will be specified in regulations which will be subject to the negative resolution procedure. Section 95(5) enables regulations to be made which will set out the circumstances in which a person who appears to the Chief Executive to have a learning difficulty is to be treated as meeting the apprenticeship offer requirements. Persons with learning difficulties will be able to provide alternative evidence which will be taken into account by way of satisfying the apprenticeship offer requirements at Level 2 and Level 3. Section 95(3) provides that the Chief Executive of Skills Funding may determine that certain qualifications awarded outside England are comparable to a specified qualification for the purpose of entry to the apprenticeship offer. Section 95 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. In forming an opinion about the levels of attainment of qualifications that satisfy the apprenticeship offer requirements, the Secretary of State must consult Ofqual under section 96(7).

Section 97: Suspension of offer

283.The Secretary of State may suspend the apprenticeship offer 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.

Section 98: Power to amend apprenticeship offer

284.This section allows the Secretary of State to amend the age in section 92(2)(b) under which people other than care leavers are eligible for the apprenticeship offer, currently set at 19. The section also enables the Secretary of State to amend the level of qualification for the apprenticeship offer. The power is exercisable by order, which will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

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