Apprenticeships in England are changing. The new Apprenticeship Standards are replacing the existing frameworks which are designed to meet the changing needs of employers, learners and providers.

These new apprenticeship standards aim to:

  • Give employers control in designing apprenticeships that meet employer, sector and economic needs
  • Simplify the standard in a clear and easy to understand process
  • Define the level of skill, knowledge and competency required to operate in a particular job role or sector
  • Provide rigorous independent assessment that tests competency at the end of an apprenticeship
  • Allocate a grading that recognises exceptional performance

Businesses that offer Apprenticeships view them as beneficial to their long-term development. According to the British Chambers of Commerce, most employ an apprentice to improve the skills base within their business. Recruiting apprentices enables employers to fill the skills gaps that exist within their current workforce as apprentices begin to learn sector specific skills from day one; developing specialist knowledge that will positively affect your bottom line.

In addition to eager, motivated staff who are committed to on the job training and development, industry research has highlighted numerous direct and indirect benefits of Apprenticeships for both recruiting new apprentices and for training your workforce:

  • 92% of employers who employ apprentices believe that Apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce.
  • 83% of employers who employ apprentices rely on their Apprenticeships programme to provide the skilled workers that they need for the future.
  • One in five employers are hiring more apprentices to help them through the tough economic climate.
  • The average Apprenticeship increases business productivity by £214 per week* (*source: Skills Funding Agency)

Apprenticeship Standards versus Frameworks:

Apprenticeship standards are the new type of apprenticeship. Standards vary from existing frameworks in a number of ways:

  • They are designed by employer groups known as ‘trailblazers’.
  • They are clear and concise only a few pages long and define a job in a skilled occupation
  • They are a minimum of 12 months in duration
  • They do not necessarily include qualifications
  • They include a minimum 20% off the job training and English and/or maths (where applicable)
  • They cover knowledge, skills and behaviours and must contain transferable skills
  • They will be subject to a final end-point assessment which will be graded

The intention is that government will phase out frameworks between now and 2020, as we move over to the new employer-led apprenticeship standards.

Choosing apprenticeship training – all employers

You will need to choose the training you’d like your apprentice to receive throughout their apprenticeship. Apprenticeship training can either be on a new apprenticeship standard where they are available or where one is not available, on an existing apprenticeship framework (these are the 2 different types of apprenticeship training).

Choosing a training provider and an assessment organisation – all employers

You will also need to choose a training provider. If you’re spending funds in your digital account (more about that later), or accessing funding through co-investment, you can only spend it with a government approved training provider. All employers will be able to access a register of approved training providers through the digital apprenticeship service. The digital apprenticeship service will also provide details of approved assessment organisations that will be required to undertake the end-point assessment. You will be able to choose which you want to assess your apprentice.

Definition of an Apprenticeship

An Apprenticeship is a job that requires substantial and sustained training, leading to the achievement of an Apprenticeship standard and the development of transferable skills.

In most cases, employers will be working with one training provider and one assessment organisation for training in a particular sector. In this instance it is likely that you will choose the training provider to be your ‘lead’ provider who will liaise with and transfer funding through to the assessment organisation at the appropriate time, on your behalf. This enables you to focus on your apprentice training and rest easy in the knowledge that your lead provider will liaise with any other organisations that are required to be part of the apprenticeship process.

Apprenticeship Levy

It was in this document that the Levy was introduced as a mechanism for sustaining apprenticeships longer term. The apprenticeship levy requires all employers operating in the UK, with a pay bill over £3 million each year, to make an investment in apprenticeships. This will be introduced on 6 April 2017. Employers can benefit from this investment by training apprentices.

For the purposes of the levy, an ‘employer’ is someone who is a secondary contributor, with liability to pay Class 1 secondary National Insurance contributions (NICs) for their employees. The levy will be charged at a rate of 0.5% of your annual pay bill. Employers will have a levy allowance of £15,000 per year to offset against the levy they must pay. This means as an employer, you will only pay the levy if your pay bill exceeds £3 million in a given year.

The levy will be paid to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) through the Pay as You Earn (PAYE) process.