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9. Thinking of taking on an apprentice?

Central government wants to improve the recognition, quality and quantity of apprenticeships across England. They have committed to 3 million apprenticeships by 2020:

  • An Apprenticeship Levy
  • Targets for Public Sector bodies
  • New employer-designed standards
  • End-point assessments to be introduced
  • Removal of upper age limit
  • Apprenticeships available for graduates
  • Access to apprenticeships open to current employees

Apprenticeships are now the cornerstone of the skills system and provide opportunities for all sectors, and at all levels. The apprenticeship levy will boost economic productivity, while increasing the skills base and giving millions a step on the ladder of opportunity.

Apprenticeship Levy

From April 2017 the way apprenticeships are funded has changed as part of a series of wider reforms to the apprenticeship system in England. Employers with a pay bill of more than £3m will be required to pay an apprenticeship levy. In England employers who pay the levy will be able to access funding for apprenticeship training and assessment via a new apprenticeship service.

Available funding can be used to meet the cost of apprenticeship training and assessment against an approved apprenticeship framework or standard. This can be for both existing employees as well as new starters. The training provider must be on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers.

How much is the levy and how is it calculated?

The apprenticeship levy is a 0.5% tax on your total pay bill. Your total pay bill includes all employee earnings. In most cases this will be basic pay including any additional allowances.

Claiming back training costs against the apprenticeship levy

The proceeds of the levy paid by each employer, plus a 10% supplement, will be credited to a “digital account”, from which the employer will be able to arrange and pay for eligible training for, and assessment of, any apprentice starting after 1 May 2017. Funds that accrue in the online digital apprenticeship account will expire after 24 months.

Where community and voluntary controlled schools are combined with the county council for the purpose of the levy, the council will be the account holder for levy funds. Each school will need to make an application to withdraw the funding by completing an application form which is to be launched or accessing the portal once live. These applications must be made by the nominated apprenticeship coordinator within each school, if the application is not made by the named coordinator these will be checked to ensure authenticity.

Apprenticeship Standards

Brand new apprenticeship qualifications named ‘standards’ are being created by groups of employers (trailblazers). The aim of these new standards is to ensure they meet the needs of employers, are fit for purpose, are more flexible and have an improved overall quality.

As the new standards become live they will be phasing out the existing apprenticeship frameworks (from now until 2020).

A key difference between an apprenticeship standard and framework is that the standard must be accompanied by an end-point assessment. This assessment is undertaken by a separate organisation from the provider that delivered the training to ensure it is impartial. The end-point assessment also provides an opportunity for an apprentice to more accurately demonstrate their competence, as they will be given a mark of either pass, merit or distinction.

A list of the relevant apprenticeship qualifications to school can be found in the attachment below. This includes both a mix of standards and frameworks. The most up to date list of apprenticeship standards and the status of their development can be found on the government website.