North East businesses are being urged to get advice on how the biggest shake-up of apprenticeships in decades will affect them.
In April the government is bringing in major changes, including a levy paid by larger employers, new apprenticeships covering more job roles and different rules on funding.
A levy of 0.5% of the payroll will be paid by any employer that has an annual wage bill of £3m or more.
The levy, which will be paid monthly, will go into a digital account and can be used to pay for apprenticeship training. The government will pay an additional 10% top up into these accounts
Apprentices aged 16-18 will attract an additional payment of £1000 to employers of all sizes.
Employers who don’t pay the levy will be able to access government support of 90% towards the cost of apprenticeship training, while businesses with less than 50 employees will have their apprenticeships fully funded for staff aged 16-18.
Managing director at Gateshead-based Access Training and Chair of North East Learning Providers (a confederation of 60 training providers based in the North East), Malcolm Armstrong, explains why firms should act now:
“All the changes can be quite confusing, so employers need to source a quality training provider who can help them understand what’s happening and help them prepare for it.
“The first thing to do is establish if you will have to pay the levy and, if so, how much it will be. Then it’s a case of working with your training provider to find out how best to spend that money to enhance your business.
“The term apprenticeship can be misleading because people tend to think it refers to inexperienced trainees, when in fact, apprenticeships are now available at much higher levels, in a much wider range of job roles, and are used by companies to upskill people in supervisory and managerial roles, for example.”
The changes are intended to help create three million apprenticeships by 2020. As a major commitment to increasing both the quality and quantity of Apprenticeships in England, the government is putting the control in the hands of employers around the country.
A new government service has been launched to help companies choose the right training partner for them – the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS). Employers who don’t already have a preferred training partner are encouraged to use DAS to source and select an appropriate training provider, using its simple online tool ‘Find apprenticeship training’.
The tool helps employers to select the most appropriate apprenticeship and gives objective information on training providers’ previous performance including achievement rates and customer satisfaction ratings (rated by both employers and learners).