The apprenticeship reforms and how you can help

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You’ll hopefully be aware that apprenticeships are a great way to progress in work and life for individuals of all ages and backgrounds. They are also a great way for employers to improve the skills base of their business. 

You might also know that there have been a number of reforms introduced to apprenticeships, designed to deliver an increase in both the quality and quantity. This has included the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and the start of a shift to move all new apprentices onto high quality apprenticeship standards (from the older style apprenticeship frameworks) by 2020. 

The levy requires all employers with an annual pay bill of £3m or more to pay 0.5% of their pay bill to invest in apprenticeship training whilst smaller employers will be supported to take on apprentices by having at least 90% of their training costs covered by the government. This means more employers in the UK will have a stake in investing in apprenticeships. But is yours one of them?

How can union learning reps help?

The easiest first step to help is to ask ‘is my employer a levy paying employer?’ If so, have they signed up for the apprenticeship service

What is the apprenticeship service?

Levy-paying employers are able to manage their apprenticeships through a new online system which enables employers to:

  • manage levy funds to spend on apprentices
  • add or amend information about apprentices and training
  • authorise payments to training providers
  • view payment activity in their account

It’s so easy to register meaning it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes for employers to set up their account.

Why should levy-paying employers sign up to the apprenticeship service?

Levy-paying employers who register on the apprenticeship service can further their journey into developing a highly skilled and productive workforce. This can include the recruitment of new apprentices, whilst also offering exciting new opportunities for existing staff to learn a new set of skills which they can utilise in other areas of the organisation.

The apprenticeship service has been user tested by over a thousand employers before and since its introduction. Since going live, many employers have registered and commented on the simplicity of how easy the service is to use.

So I’ve registered – what shall I do now?

You can find out more here about how to register and use the apprenticeship service as an employer. Why not check whether the relevant people in your organisation have taken a look at it? 

Of course, registering for the service should only really be the beginning. We would encourage you to speak with your HR department to think about the types of apprenticeships that are available, which will meet your organisation’s needs.

Can I get any help?

If any of your employers have any questions about their account, they can:

Or you can follow @ESFADigital to get the latest updates about the apprenticeship service.

More Information

We have published two new guides to the apprenticeship service – one for employers and one for training providers. We hope that these will provide a useful step-by-step guide as to what needs to be considered in the setting up and use of an apprenticeship service account from both perspectives.

We really appreciate the work union learning reps do to further the skills development of their organisations and we look forward to continue working with you to maximise the opportunities the apprenticeship reforms present.

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Ian Alexander

Ian Alexander works within the Apprenticeship Communications and Stakeholder Engagement team for the Department of Education (DfE). He has worked for the DfE since 2016 and is a member of a team which engages with both internal and external stakeholders to communicate key aspects and benefits of the Apprenticeship Programme.

Ian is working closely with the Education Skills Funding Agency to identify opportunities to communicate with employers about recruiting apprentices into their organisations and welcomes opportunities to engage wider with employers and training providers.