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IQ Make Cogent Apprenticeship Complaint

Industry Qualifications (IQ) has today submitted a formal complaint to the Department of Business Innovation and Skills and the Office of Fair Trading concerning Cogent’s stewardship of the polymer apprenticeship framework.

The complaints relate to the financial demands imposed by Cogent on awarding organisations wishing to offer the polymer apprenticeship before it is willing to include them on the polymer apprenticeship framework. Without a listing on the framework, centres using qualifications from new awarding organisations cannot attract funding for their apprentices, creating an unfair advantage for incumbent organisations.

Cogent’s defence of this charge is that following changes to public funding, they are no longer funded to undertake this work. The IQ position is that the charge is disproportionate to the work involved; that as a Sector Skills Council (SSC), Cogent benefits from a range of public funds; that managing apprenticeship framework is part of a wider SSC responsibility that allows the organisation to access those public funds; and that the imposition of a charge is a barrier to entry that is detrimental to the interests of employers.

Chief Executive of IQ, Raymond Clarke said, “We are very disappointed by the position of Cogent on this issue. The qualifications concerned were approved in February 2012, long before the announcement of changes to the Cogent policy, which is yet to be agreed with awarding organisations. We have still not received an explanation from Cogent as to why it has delayed the inclusion of the IQ awards in the framework for some eight months, nor indeed, why charges are being levied retrospectively.”

More generally, Clarke believes that the effect of the policy is “detrimental to the sector, reducing choice to polymer companies, creating barriers to innovation, and keeping certification costs higher than they might otherwise be. In sectors such as polymer where qualification volumes are low, artificial barriers of this type clearly undermine the primary purpose of an SSC.”

IQ is able to offer a full range of qualifications for the polymer sector, and with the exception of the apprenticeship scheme, funding is available in most areas. For full details of IQ awards for the polymer industry, please check the qualifications database at