Govt Launches Service To Boost Apprenticeship Uptake

The government has announced a new service that will help more people enrol in apprenticeship schemes by transferring funds from large businesses to smaller ones.

From Tuesday September 13th, bigger companies have been able to pledge their Apprenticeship Levy through a new online service to allow other businesses to access this funding.

This means small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be able to support their apprenticeship schemes with this extra finance, which will close the skills gap in certain industries, including health, digital, construction and creative sectors.

Gillian Keegan, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, said: “I’m pleased we’re making it easier for smaller and medium-sized businesses to offer apprenticeships, which will unleash exciting new opportunities for apprentices and ensure that every business can benefit from the productivity and skills of apprentices.”

The new service allows large companies, such as Amazon, Lloyds Banking and Co-op, to advertise their funding pledges on the dedicated website.

Smaller businesses can then easily search on the page and apply for funds that are relevant and appealing to them.

For instance, global consultancy and construction company Mace Group, Amazon, and the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust have already committed £635,000 of their funds for the 2021/22 financial year.

Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak emphasised the importance of supporting SMEs in the UK, and subsequently, the value of making it easier for them to take on apprentices.

“Our Plan for Jobs is equipping people with the skills they need to find work, and I’m immensely proud to see these new reforms providing even more apprenticeship opportunities,” Mr Sunak went on to say.

Mace Group has taken part in a pilot scheme to exemplify how the process works. It put forward £100,000 last month, with the funds soon to be published on the page. Following this, businesses within the sector will be able to access and create apprenticeships with the finance, which will help train valuable future employees in the industry.

Chief executive officer of Mace Group Mark Reynolds stated this will “help us develop a much stronger pipeline of skilled people across the construction industry”.

The company has also pledged to transfer another £350,000 to £500,000 a year to continue supporting both smaller businesses and apprentices within the sector.

Those wanting to pursue a career in construction may also benefit from the proposed flexi-job apprenticeships.

According to FE Week, the new scheme will encourage the uptake of training programmes where short-term contracts are typical and it is difficult for an apprentice to complete a full 12 months of the programme.

Organisations have been asked to bid between £100,000 and £1 million to set up the agencies, and only those that meet the required standard will be accepted. The government intends £7 million to be invested in the scheme, which will also encourage trainees to diversify their skills by working for a range of sectors across the industry.

A construction apprentice, for instance, would be able to gain experience on building sites, newbuild developments, office blocks and house refurbishments, giving them broad knowledge of the trade.

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