Apprenticeships offer employers large and small a fantastic opportunity to get the skilled workforce they need to grow their business.
There are hundreds of thousands of employers up and down the country that are already seeing the positive impact and energy that apprentices are bringing to their workplace. From large multinational companies like Royal Mail and Coca Cola to public sector organisations like the NHS and the Armed forces and much smaller local firms, all types of employer are offering people of all ages and backgrounds the chance to secure a great job and get ahead in their career.
To help with this, the National Apprenticeships Services have taken a number of steps to ensure that apprentices are gaining the skills that employers are rightly demanding. Most importantly, we have put quality at the heart of apprenticeships.
We have completely overhauled the system, working closely with employers and industry to design high quality, more flexible apprenticeships known as ‘standards’. In addition, we require apprentices to spend at least 20% of their time in off the job training, and making sure through the introduction of the end point assessment in standards – delivered by an organisation specialising in these end of apprenticeship tests – apprentices are ‘job ready’. There are already over 350 new standards available in sectors from banking to hairdressing, aerospace engineering to architecture. And there are many more being developed by employers across the country in all sectors and occupations where they want to create an apprenticeship route.
To ensure that quality remains consistent, we’re phasing out the old style apprenticeships known as ‘Frameworks’ so that from the start of the 2020/21 academic year, all new apprenticeship starts will be on our new standards. These changes are making sure that today’s apprenticeships reflect what businesses want and need.
We also want employers to be confident that the training their apprentices are receiving is high quality. To support this we have taken decisive action to strengthen the high bar that training providers must already meet before they can register with us. Only training providers that meet the tougher registration requirements can deliver apprenticeship training and access government funding.
In April 2017 we introduced the apprenticeship levy to create long-term, sustainable investment in apprenticeship training. All large firms with a pay bill of over £3 million pay the Levy and then they use it to pay for apprenticeship training of their choice. By 2019-20 we will be investing £2.45 billion in the programme annually which means more money is available than ever before for firms to invest in the next generation of workers’ training and skills, with every penny spent on apprenticeships training. Businesses can now also transfer up to 10% – increasing to 25% from April 2019 – of their levy funds to any other employer so they can benefit too.
And to support smaller employers who don’t pay the Levy, but may be thinking of taking on an apprentice, we recently announced up to £240 million of additional funds to halve their apprenticeship training costs, by reducing the amount of money that they have to pay from 10% to 5%.
There’s so many great reasons to hire an apprentice. They are a great way to reenergise your workplace, and bring in the skills your business needs to thrive. Everyone benefits from the economic gain of having a more skilled workforce, which is why we want to continue to encourage all employers – large and small – to take advantage of the changes we have made and consider taking on apprentices. So if you are thinking of taking the plunge and need some help the National Apprenticeships Services is on hand to offer advice and support. I can assure you won’t regret it.