Bids Welcomed On New £7m Flexi-Job Apprenticeship Development Fund

Bidding has opened on a £7m fund set up by the government to help sectors which struggle to meet the minimum 12-month duration for an apprenticeship. FE Week reports that the new flexi-job apprenticeships are designed to encourage the uptake of schemes in sectors where short-term contracts are the norm, such as film, media, and construction.

Organisations are invited to make bids of between £100,000 and £1m to set up the agencies. They will have to meet a rigorous set of selection criteria, to prove that they are able to provide a quality and worthwhile experience for both the employer and the apprentice in their chosen sector or region.

The new scheme is intended to diversify the talent and labour pool available in sectors such as digital media, theatre, film, TV, adult social care, transport, agriculture, construction, and manufacturing. These industries tend to provide short-term work placements, making it difficult for a trainee to complete the required 12 months.

Apprentices taking part in the new scheme will be able to move between different productions in the TV or theatre industry, for example. This will help to make careers in this field more inclusive and accessible for people from all sectors of society, and also maintain the diversity and creativity of the workforce.

Those wishing to work in the field of adult social care would be able to complete multiple assignments across care homes, hospices, and home care agency contracts. Apprentices in the construction sector would be able to move between contracts on a house refurbishment, a building site, and so on to gain a wider range of skills and experience.

Apprenticeship training agencies who are deemed to be of the required standard will be able to make bids, so they can set up new flexible work placements on behalf of an employer who does not want to recruit themselves. The £7m funding was announced by the chancellor Rishi Sunak in the spring budget, and is available in England now.

The first flexi-job apprenticeships are expected to start early next year. Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief policy officer Simon Ashworth said flexi-job apprenticeships had clear benefits, but he also sounded a note of caution.

Ashworth warned providers they will “need to manage any break in learning effectively to make sure that individuals are not out of work for too long and suffer from eroded learning and a disjointed experience,” and said flexi-job providers should have an “enhanced” pastoral support network to assist apprentices.

A pilot scheme is due to be launched later this month, run by the TV and film sector representative body ScreenSkills. 20 apprentices will undertake various placements with Netflix and WarnerMedia over 13 months.

It is hoped the new flexible approach will open doors for young people of all backgrounds to get experience of working in what can be seen as an exclusive sector that is difficult to break into.

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