On 1st May 2017, the new Employer-Led Apprenticeship system was introduced. Essentially apprenticeship funding still exists, indeed the government is still aiming for its target of 3 million apprenticeships starting in England between 2015 and 2020, but now employers are ‘in the driving seat’ of the apprenticeship journey for their employees.
As an employer, you will access the funding by one of two potential routes – if you have a yearly pay bill of over £3 million then you will be paying the ‘apprenticeship levy’ (a 0.5% tax which is estimated to raise £2.8 billion in 2019-20). However, if your pay bill is not so extravagant then you are imaginatively classified as a ‘non-levy paying’ employer and instead you participate in a ‘co-investment’ arrangement whereby employers and government share the cost of training and assessing apprentices – the government pay 90% of the training costs and the employer contributes 10% (unless you have less than 50 employees and then the government pays 100%).
With this new system, being ‘in the driving seat’ means just that, so the expectation is that employers must undertake all the administration that goes alongside managing your apprentices and the funding. Previously all this has been undertaken by the training providers and quite frankly we know that many employers will not want to add to their already overwhelming administration burden!! Who does?! Realistically, training providers are under no illusions and are quite prepared to step in to provide employers with all the guidance and support they need to recruit and register apprentices, access and monitor funding, maintain their levy/co-investment account and so on.
Added to this we are currently in a transition period between the current Apprenticeship frameworks (qualification and training bundles which form the apprenticeship) and the new Apprenticeship Standards which have been devised by employers and are job role focused rather than qualification focused – will they provide what employers want….possibly in some sectors but certainly in early years we are still in limbo waiting for yet another trailblazer group to come up with the perfect package – some of the new Standards do not even include qualifications within them…is that really what an Apprentice wants after a year or two of training…no qualification to show for it?
All this change… less funding to achieve it… and we haven’t even considered a potential change of government… will they maintain the current strategy or reverse… is there a car crash looming for apprenticeships?