The Government have recently announced significant changes to Apprenticeships which will take effect in 2017. The changes are quite complex and far-reaching but the most prominent message is a commitment to ‘3 million quality apprenticeship starts in England over this parliament’.
The Business Breakfast
The Exeter and Heart of Devon Employment and Skills Board’s ‘Tap into Top Talent’ Business Breakfast on Friday 11th March was an opportunity for local employers to find out more about the benefits of ‘growing your own’ talent. Some employers had already benefitted from employing Intermediate and Advanced level apprentices and wanted to explore Higher or Graduate apprenticeships. Others new to apprenticeships and faced with the possibility of a levy wish to make the most of the changes. Whilst other businesses were particularly eager to find out about the new BSc Digital and Technology Solutions Degree Apprenticeships at the University of Exeter. The event included presentations from successful apprentice employers and the opportunity for a question and answer session with an expert panel. The event was part of the National Apprenticeship Week 2016 and kindly supported by Santander Corporate & Commercial Bank, at Pynes Hill, Exeter.
The Apprenticeship Torch
The ‘Apprenticeship Torch’ designed and made by apprentices to symbolise the passing on of knowledge made an appearance. The Torch was en route to an event at The Shard in London on Monday and then back to Exeter for the Apprentice Expo 2016 on Tuesday 15th March. Employers took the opportunity for a photo call with The Torch and to make pledges to make apprentices part of their workforce in the future.
Apprenticeships move with the times
Many apprenticeships today reflect the emerging sectors in the economy including information technology. However, as far back as the 1500s apprenticeships in England were developed around traditional trades such as paper-making and printing. Later in the late nineteenth century apprenticeships encompassed emerging sectors such as engineering and shipbuilding. Apprenticeships have always moved with the times. Now the Government plans a series to develop apprenticeships for a new era of increased productivity. It intends to make significant changes in 2017 which are likely to include:
- Employers with a pay-bill of at least £3,000,000 will pay the Apprenticeship Levy at 0.5% of their pay-bill through HMRC.
- Employers will be eligible for an allowance of up to £15,000 towards apprenticeship course fees. This funding will be managed through the Digital Apprenticeship Service and is made on a £2 Government : £1 employer contribution basis and has a defined life-time after which it will be lost.
- Public Sector employers employing more than 250 people will be required to ensure that apprentices represent 2.3% of their workforce. A separate event in April will be help for Public Sector employers to find out more about this.
Many of these planned changes are still in the ‘melting pot’ but employers need to keep up-to-date. Plan to make apprentices part of the workforce either through formalising the training of existing employees or through recruitment so that you can make the most of the apprenticeship allowance, neutralise the cost of the levy if your paybill is over £3 million and meet the targets set for those in the Public Sector .