Government backed apprenticeships

Following a survey conducted in 2016, the government have decided to put more support behind apprenticeships with the aim to invest £2.5 billion by 2020. They are also changing the way apprenticeships are funded, allowing employers to be more flexible with when and where money is spent to benefit you. The strategy will be put into place from May 2017, meaning many more apprenticeship opportunities may soon open up to you.

Any companies that have a pay bill of over £3 million will pay an apprenticeship levy and this payment will allow for the government’s ambitious apprenticeship vision. The majority of companies will not be eligible for the levy and will benefit greatly from the new apprenticeship funding.

Why an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship holds many benefits to you, the apprentice, as well as to the employer. An apprenticeship will open up new skills and teach you the basics of a specific job whilst working and provides you with the chance to earn nationally recognised qualifications. There are many career options after A-Levels, and apprenticeships should definitely be considered.

What does government-backed mean?

Employers will receive an amount of funding from the government to encourage them to take on apprentices and also to put the apprentice, you, through crucial training to learn the theory and skills to ensure they are taught correctly for the job. The new funding will support more companies in more relevant ways and make it easier for companies to access funding, encouraging more employers to take up and offer a wide range of student apprenticeship schemes.

How has the funding changed?

The new funding will ensure that from the investment made in 2010, double the amount of investment will be placed into the apprenticeship programme by 2020.The new funding will simplify the current funding process and allow companies to choose the way they train apprentices, this will ensure that the training they provide suits their company as well as your learning. There are also various other schemes that can help with funding, namely a Degree Apprenticeship, which is aimed at 18 to 19-year-olds that are looking for an alternative route into higher education.

How will the funding effect 16-18-year-olds?

The existing different funding for different ages will be changed. Whereas previously the funding was lower for 16-18-year-olds, it will now be a level playing field across all ages. The government has recognised that a quarter of all apprentices are made up of this age group and that there are additional costs for these apprentices. In light of the findings, employers and the training provider now gain an extra £1000 when a 16-18-year-old is trained, covering any additional costs that may arise due to age. This is a massive incentive for employers to create more apprenticeships aimed at people within this age bracket and could mean a big change in a number of apprenticeships available when you apply straight from or after GCSEs. If you are aged between 19 and 24 and have formerly been in care, or you have an Education and Health Plan, the employer and training provider are also eligible to the extra £1000.

Disadvantaged areas

In order to support apprentices from all backgrounds, the new government backing will put into place a simplified version of the current funding. For one year the employer and training practice will receive £600 an apprentice who lives in the top 10% of deprived areas and the amount given goes down relevant to how deprived the area is. But this process is under review to ensure that employers are not financially discouraged from employing students of particular backgrounds.

Expiry of funds

The apprentice funds sit within a digital account and currently expire after 12 months if it was not spent on apprenticeships. This will now be extended to 24 months, ensuring the employer has every chance to give the best training and skills to you, the apprentice.

Funding bands

Funding is measured in bands from band one costing a maximum of £1500 to band 15 costing a maximum of £27000. With the new proposal, all apprenticeships, Frameworks and Standards will be allocated to the nearest band dependant on funding. Everyone regardless of age or address will be funded in the same way. Employers of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) were previously likely to be paying more on top of government funding, the adult rate for these areas have been increased by 40% at Level 2 and 80% at Level 3 and above, hence encouraging more uptake in these types of apprenticeship. An additional 20% of the maximum cost of each band will also be given to employers and training facilities for any 16-18 year old, and for a 19-24-year-old if they have formerly been in care or who have an Education and Health Plan. This 20% is to support the change in process and will be under review.

Small companies and apprenticeships

The government are also keen to support small businesses in training apprenticeships. This is a massive bonus if you would prefer to work in a smaller, more personal workplace. For employers with less than 50 employees, the government will pay 100% of the training costs up to the maximum of the funding band as long as the apprentice is aged between 16 and 18. This will be known as the small-company investment waiver. These companies will also still be entitled to the extra £1000 when taking on a young apprentice aged 16-18. This dramatically increases your chances of becoming an apprentice straight from school within a smaller company. Perhaps your GCSE work experience is something you had a strong interest in and would like to go the next step, an apprenticeship can be that next step!

Standards and Framework

The current types of apprenticeship, Standards and Framework are funded in different ways. The government plan to phase out Framework to be replaced with Standards to simplify the overall apprenticeship funding. Standards offer a more robust and relevant training experience and therefore provide a better experience for you. They are of higher quality and are more expensive, whereas this was previously off-putting for the employer, with the new government support the employer will be getting enough funding to ensure you can get put through this route, which is a massive bonus to you.

Is there support for studying English and Maths during an apprenticeship?

In this new plan, the government believe that it is their combined responsibility, along with an employer, to make sure that everybody has a good level of Maths and English. If you struggled in these areas at school, this is great news for you. If it is decided you need to improve on one or both of these areas, the government will give your training centre £471 to deliver the qualification to you. You will be expected to achieve Level 1 and hopefully, Level 2 and your employer will support you in achieving this. If you want to progress further, this won’t be funded by the government, but you could still negotiate with your employer.  

Employer grants and benefits

An employer can also get a £1500 apprenticeship grant if they employ less than 50 people and an apprentice is aged between 16 and 24. They can also get funding if the employer is providing formal study rather than sending the apprentice to a training centre (the centre would usually get funding). An apprentice aged 16-18 will get all of the course costs covered, 50% will be covered for those aged 19-23 and for those aged over 24 only a contribution. This is great news if you have just finished GCSEs and want to secure an apprentice in a small company, it’s definitely a great career option after completing GCSE’s and should be worth considering.

How does this new employer funding help me?

You may think this funding doesn’t directly benefit you – only the employer, but you are wrong! By employers receiving this crucial funding, it not only means that more apprenticeships are open to everyone it also means that you will receive top training and support throughout your apprenticeship. The more incentives that the government give, the more willing employers will be to help support apprentices of any age. Whereas previous funding depended on the age of the apprentice, the new funding disregards that, so an employer is less likely to hire somebody of a particular age just because they can get more funding. If you are applying straight from school, this is great news for you.

The new funding means more opportunities. With more companies wanting to be involved and with the government’s strategic aim to double the money behind apprenticeships, more people will be employed and therefore the likelihood of you securing your dream apprenticeship also doubles.

This then seamlessly translates to there being more permanent jobs available to you at the end of your apprenticeship. The new government funding allows an employer to fully support you in your apprenticeship from a young age and they will mould you to suit their practices at work. By supporting you and giving the training you need, you are much more likely to want to stay within the company, benefitting your employer with better staff retention and lowering the recruitment costs.

If you have just finished your GCSEs and are aged 16-18 an apprenticeship is now a really achievable route of study, this new funding set up will be a massive bonus and the funding now encourages employers to hire apprentices from this age group.