Committee and Date                  Item        Paper


                                           15 July 2009                        9 D
                                           12.30 PM                            Public


 Responsible Officer George Candler – Assistant Director: Culture and Leisure
 e-mail: george.candler@shropshire-cc.gov.uk Tel: 01743 255003   Fax 01743 255001

           This report provides background information on the current activities of the Learning,
           Employment and Training Services (LETS) and its current contracting
           arrangements. It also outlines the opportunities for future external bids to support the
           work of the service in provider training, and working with disadvantaged groups and
           individuals in Shropshire.


      A.      Approval to proceed with a range of competitive tenders bid for Shropshire
              Council, Learning, Employment and Training Services. This will support
              workforce development within public, private and third sector organisations and to
              provide employability activities that offer job search and other support to
              disadvantaged groups and individuals.


1.     Background
1.1    The Learning, Employment and Training Service consists of a number of strands of
       learning, training and employability programmes predominantly funded by external
       sources such as Learning and Skills Council (LSC), Department for Work and
       Pensions (DWP) and European Social Fund (ESF). This enables the vast majority of
       the service to be a self supporting business unit within Shropshire Council. The
       service includes branded services such as County Training, Enable, Adult and
       Community Learning and Social Care and Health Training.

1.2    The County Training provision was set up in the 1980’s as the council’s response to
       high levels of youth and adult unemployment. It is now, through the ongoing success
       of delivering government funded programmes, the major provider of apprenticeship
       programmes in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin and currently (until October 2009) the
       Prime Contractor for all Jobcentre Plus provision across Shropshire, Telford and

1.3    The main activities of the service include:
        • Apprenticeships – vocational training and employment opportunities for young
            people aged 16 – 24.

Contact: George Candler on 01743 255003                                                            1
           •    E2E (Entry to Employment) – support for disengaged young people aged 16 – 24
                to move them into positive outcomes such as apprenticeships, employment or
                further education.
           •    The National “Train 2 Gain” programme and a wide range of NVQ delivery at
                levels 2, 3 and 4.
           •    Adult Apprenticeships – NVQ’s delivered at levels 2 and 3 which includes key
                skills and technical certificates.
           •    ESF funded programmes – NVQ’s delivered at levels 2, 3 and 4.
           •    Social Care and Health Training – a wide range of short courses, management
                development and NVQ delivery across the Health and Social Care sector.
                This includes the voluntary and independent sectors and partnerships with the
                PCT and NHS Foundation Trust
           •    Adult and Community Learning – courses for leisure and pleasure, First Steps
                learning for hard to reach groups, Family Learning etc.
           •    Jobcentre Plus, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and ESF funded work
                – a wide range of interventions to provide unemployed and disabled people with
                the support to gain sustained employment.
           •    learndirect (University for Industry) – e-learning courses delivered to Probation
                Service clients and offenders.
           •    Vocational delivery across Shropshire schools including, from September 2009,
                the delivery of Diplomas.

         The service operates from training centres across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin,
         including Ludlow, Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Whitchurch, Stafford Park and Hortonwood,
         Telford, offering specialist training such as Hairdressing, ICT, Retail, Customer
         Service, Fork Lift Truck driving, Hospitality, Adult Care, Childcare, Management etc.

1.4      Current Funding Streams
         Analysis of income for the Learning, Employment and Training Service during 2008/09
         comes from the following funding streams:

         Funding Stream                                                                       £
         Learning and Skills Council                                                          £ 4,667,078
         Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)                                               £ 2,508,470
         Learning and Skills Council / ESF                                                    £ 318,721
         Provider Led Pathways (DWP)                                                          £ 675,109
         Department of Health                                                                 £ 868,962
         Shropshire PCT                                                                       £    70,055
         learndirect                                                                          £ 219,222
         Commercial (includes Fork Lift Truck qualifications                                  £ 501,941
         and private NVQs)
         Miscellaneous (includes commercial courses running                                   £   459,995
         from the Gateway and Adult Social Care Training)
         Shropshire Council1                                                                  £ 1,233,930
                                                           Total                              £11,523,483

    Shropshire Council funding includes:

           Delivery of Adult Social Training for Shropshire Council and the independent sector.
           Funding from schools for the delivery of 14 – 16 year old vocational training.
           Part funds the Enable Service.

Contact: George Candler on 01743 255003                                                                     2
2.    Results and achievements
      LET’s have been very successful over the last three years in obtaining new contracts
      due to its management ability and significant achievements in delivering high quality
      provision. During 2008/09 LET’s helped over 800 long term unemployed people back
      into work and trained over 500 Apprentices.

3.    Current Situation

3.1   Over the last 3 - 5 years the service has grown in size and scope of its provision. It
      has developed close links with the further education colleges across Shropshire
      including Ludlow College where until recently we jointly shared the “Centre of
      Vocational Excellence” for Social Care and Health Training.

      The Learning & Skills Council (LSC), who is a significant funder of the service, has
      changed in structure, and focus. The change from a local perspective to a Marches
      and increasingly regional perspective has meant that due to reduced LSC capacity
      single status bids by individual organisations has not been a realistic option. The LSC
      will be disbanded in 2010 when other agencies such as the Skills Funding Agency,
      National Apprenticeship Service and the Young Persons Learning Agency will fund and
      commission training provision. Local Authorities will be acquiring additional
      responsibility for the commissioning of 16 – 19 education provision including the
      Diploma and Apprenticeship Entitlement and Raising the Participation Age.

      The post 16 sector have been encouraged by funders such as European Social Fund
      and the LSC to collaborate on competitive funding bids. Over the last three years we
      have successfully partnered Shrewsbury College, TCAT and other training
      organisations across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Hereford and Worcester.

      The LETS service has been successful in bidding for work to provide training and
      support for offenders, people with ESOL (English as a second language), Skills for Life
      skills training, and a job scoping and matching service across Shropshire and Telford &
      Wrekin. All of our competitors at the second stage of the bidding process were
      national providers, based in Nottingham, London etc and the trend for national and
      multi – national competition is increasing.

3.3   Recently (June 2009) the results were announced for the new ‘Flexible New Deal’
      contract which was based on the geographical coverage for delivery in Shropshire,
      Telford and Wrekin, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Coventry and
      Warwickshire. The successful bidders were Serco, a multi – national organisation.
      They will subcontract 50% of delivery in Shropshire to Pertemps (owned by a large
      Australian company).
      The remaining 50% of the Flexible New Deal contract will be delivered by County
      Training. This change in delivery will negatively impact on finances and staffing within

      As a result of this new approach it is now becoming increasingly difficult to bid for just
      Shropshire work, and competition from national and multi national providers is
      becoming a real threat to the ability to deliver a range of vocational and employability
      solutions to local people and communities.

Contact: George Candler on 01743 255003                                                            3
4.    Future Contracting – Replacement for the Workstep Contract delivered by

4.1   As the changes to external funding regimes continue to impact on local delivery, the
      majority of contracts are now being offered, either through a Marches Consortium
      (Telford & Wrekin, Shropshire and Herefordshire & Worcestershire) or increasingly on
      a regional basis across the whole of the West Midlands.

      We have been informed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that the
      competitive tender process for the Prime Contractor work for supporting disabled
      unemployed people into work through the Enable Service will be for a Regional Prime
      Contract. This includes Telford & Wrekin, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire,
      Staffordshire and Coventry and Warwickshire. The Learning, Employment and
      Training Service would wish to competitively tender for this work as the Prime
      Contractor and to sub contract some of the delivery across the region to other
      experienced and well established providers capable of delivering this specialist

4.2   DWP are looking for two main supply chain managers. Our approach would include
      partnership arrangements with other providers and may also involve the delivery
      across Shropshire with some subcontracting across Hereford, Worcester and within the
      wider West Midlands region.

4.3   The current Workstep contract will be replaced from October 2010, Shropshire Council
      has held this contract in varying forms for about 25 years. It supports people with
      complex needs into paid employment of at least 16 hours. It is one of the best
      performing nationally. The new contract will merge with another programme Workprep
      into a new Specialist Disability Programme. The value of the contract has yet to be
      confirmed, but is likely to be in the region of £4 million over the 3 – 5 year life of the
      programme. A second round tender the ‘Invitation to Tender’ (ITT) will be published in
      July 2009 and will have to be submitted in October 2009.

4.4    If the bid was unsuccessful the Enable Service may lose all of the Workstep delivery
      for Shropshire, (unless it is successful in becoming a subcontractor in the winning bid),
      this would result in loss of income . This would have a serious implication for the
      viability of Enable (all infrastructure costs are paid for via Workstep currently).

      However if the bid was successful Shropshire Council would be:

          •   Recognised as a national lead on working with people with disabilities
          •   Would have secured funding for delivery for 3 – 5 years.
          •   It would open the door for other supported employment / specialist disability

5.    Further Contracting Opportunities

      The LETS service is continually seeking external funding to support the work with
      disadvantaged groups in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, the Marches and beyond.
      These funding streams are predominantly through Government agencies such as the
      Learning and Skills Council (LSC), Department for Work and Pensions (DWP),
      Advantage West Midlands (AWM), Government Office for the West Midlands (GOWM)
      etc. Timescales for competitively bidding for these funds can be very tight and
      approval is sought to continue to competitively bid for funding to support the training
      and employability for key groups and to support employers in workforce development.

Contact: George Candler on 01743 255003                                                        4
6.    Next Steps

6.1   Cabinet are asked to consider whether it is appropriate for LETS to submit a detailed
      tender to DWP in July 2009 to become the Prime Contractor for the new Specialist
      Disability Programme The approximate value is £4 million over 3 – 5 years.

6.2   To seek approval to continue to competitively tender for any new programmes which
      aim to support the work of the Council around worklessness, workforce development,
      within the public, private and third sector. This will include learning, training and
      education programmes and other Information, Advice and Guidance support for key
      disadvantaged groups.

Contact: George Candler on 01743 255003                                                       5
List of Background Papers (This MUST be completed for all reports, but does
not include items containing exempt or confidential information)
Learning, Employment and Training Service, Headline Service Plan

Human Rights Act Appraisal
No apparent issues.

Environmental Appraisal
Not Applicable

Risk Management Appraisal
Not applicable at this stage.

Community / Consultations Appraisal
Not applicable

Cabinet Member
Cllr. Stephen Charmley

Local Member
Not applicable



Contact: George Candler on 01743 255003                                       6

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