It was a great pleasure to attend the AAC conference in Birmingham at the end of March. As well as reuniting with some old friends and customers, it was an opportunity to catch up with all the latest industry news. Some of the statistics from the last year’s sector performance were not tooencouraging – the worst being the fact that at Ofsted inspection, 40% of providers achieved a grading of less than ‘good’. Also – if you believe that the recent drive within the Apprenticeships sector has been to provide viable alternatives to 16-18s and to generate industry skills for the UK – it was not good to hear that apprenticeship funding has been shifting significantly away from Level 2 and 3 qualifications, and towards higher level qualifications, especially in management. Whilst these higher level qualifications are undoubtedly valuable, many people won’t see that as the apprenticeship budget being spent in the right places. The scale of the shift shows that this is not just occurring in a few rare cases – it’s endemic to the industry. There was bad news around funding too – it seems that the current funding pot for non-levy apprenticeships is running dry, with stories of certain providers having to turn potential Apprentices away. This is clearly a big problem and one wonders how the Government targets for new Apprenticeship starts can ever be reached under these circumstances. On a brighter note, there were some current Apprentices present at the conference and their enthusiasm interest and energy served as a great reminder of why we’re all proud to contribute to this sector.