Apprenticeship consultation may result in increased opportunities
Apprenticeships are a method of training, usually within a skilled profession, while working at the same time. Although they are often perceived as a way into employment for younger people, apprenticeships are open to all who are aged over 16. The Government encourages employers to use apprentices as a method of creating a skilled workforce.
In Scotland, apprenticeships are run under a contract of apprenticeship, which is similar to a contract of employment, including the rights afforded by one, but is specialised for an apprentice. It will state how long the apprenticeship is expected to last and the training that will be provided. In England and Wales, apprenticeships are run under an apprentice agreement.
Apprentices who are working towards both apprenticeship frameworks or apprenticeship standards, or under a contract of apprenticeship in Scotland, must receive off-the-job training. The duration of off-the-job training must be a minimum of 20% of the duration of the apprenticeship. This training can be provided at their place of work and does not need to be done off-site.
The Apprenticeship Levy has been set up by the Government to encourage more companies to take on apprentices. Organisations with an annual payroll bill of at least £3 million pay 0.5% of their payroll cost to HMRC per month, who place these funds into a digital account. These companies can then apply for access to their digital account and can start using that account to pay for apprenticeships. Funds in this account expire and are paid to the Government if not used within two years of being paid into the account.
The Department for Education (DfE) is consulting on a new operating framework for flexi-job apprenticeship schemes as a means to increase the use of apprenticeships in certain sectors and professions. The consultation document and accompanying survey are open for comments until 1 June 2021.
The aim is to develop portable apprenticeships, enabling them to move between employers in industries where short-term contracts are the norm during their apprenticeship. The Government sees flexi-job apprenticeships as a means to overcome the barriers that have hindered the use of apprenticeships in certain sectors and professions.
However, prior to launching a £7 million fund in July 2021, it wants to explore the different ways such models could operate. It also wants to seek views on how flexi-job apprenticeship schemes can achieve its ambition for long-term financial sustainability, and identify the improvements needed to the previous Apprenticeship Training Agency model.
Apprenticeships remain a key method of training up people who are entering a sector for the first time and remain popular.