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04.04.18

How apprenticeships work

With a higher number and higher quality of apprenticeships on offer than ever before, 2018 is set to be a monumental year for training. Sue Husband, director of the National Apprenticeship Service, explains how apprenticeships are helping more people to progress in work and life.

Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for people to earn while they learn, gain vital work experience and set themselves on a fast track to a successful career for life. Lasting between one and five years, apprenticeships are now available in over hundreds of occupations in many industries.

They are for people of all ages and all backgrounds, offering a ladder of opportunity for people to gain the life-changing skills they need and enabling businesses to acquire the critical skills they need for growth. Since 2015, we’ve seen over 1.2 million apprenticeship starts to date, creating more opportunities for people of all ages and from all backgrounds.

The apprenticeship landscape

Apprenticeships work for individuals, businesses, communities and the wider economy. They give people the opportunity to earn while developing important and relevant skills valued by employers, increasing earning potential and providing the foundations for career success, with more than 85% of apprentices staying in employment after their course ends.

We know that apprenticeships are having a growing impact on employers and individuals across the country, but we also know we can do more. The government is committed to ensuring that there is an apprenticeship out there for everyone and is taking steps to increase the number on offer, investing £2.5bn to reach the target of three million apprenticeship starts by 2020. But we do not just want to see more apprenticeships; we want better apprenticeships in more sectors, covering more roles, and we want to persuade more employers to offer apprenticeships. Our reforms give employers a real stake in this.

Quality is crucial, and that is why the government has created a new independent body, the Institute for Apprenticeships, which supports the quality of new apprenticeship standards and puts employers at the heart of decision-making processes. Alongside the Institute for Apprenticeships, groups of employers called ‘Trailblazers’ are designing new apprenticeship standards that equip learners with the transferable skills and knowledge that employers want. There are more than 1,400 employers involved in developing new apprenticeships. Around 250 ‘Trailblazers’ have already developed over 200 approved standards – with a further 300 in development.

Funding

The past year has seen significant changes to the way that apprenticeships are funded. Our apprenticeship reforms, the largest government has ever made, have put control back into the hands of employers so they will gain the skilled workforce they need to compete globally. The introduction of a UK-wide apprenticeship levy last April has been a crucial part of these reforms, helping to fund a step change in apprenticeship numbers and quality.

Through the levy, £2.5bn will be invested in apprenticeships by 2019-20, double the amount spent in 2010-11. Employers with a pay bill of over £3m pay 0.5% through the levy each month, which can then be reinvested in training and assessments either for new apprentices or to upskill existing employees, via the online apprenticeship service. Meanwhile, non-levy-paying employers – those with a pay bill under £3m – receive 90% of apprenticeship training and assessment costs.

With more money than ever, we will be helping people get into more and better-quality apprenticeships. We expect employers to take their time to plan high-quality, well-thought-through apprenticeship provision that meets their specific needs, with two years to spend their levy funds, and maximise the opportunities an apprenticeship can bring for both the learner and employer. Feedback we have had shows employers are doing exactly that.

We are also continuing to help those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Through the levy, the government is investing £60m in supporting the training of apprentices from the poorest areas in the country, as well as providing an additional £150 a month for training providers to give extra learning support to an apprentice with learning or other disabilities to ensure social mobility for all.

Reputation

The government’s ambition is to create a professional and technical education system that puts skills at the forefront of learning and ensures that we have the skills that employers need to grow. Classroom-based learning does not suit everybody, and apprenticeships are a chance to learn in a practical, work-based environment. But it’s no longer a case of choosing between university or learning on the job. 

Those who wish to study while they learn can now apply for a higher or degree apprenticeship, which provides the opportunity to get a bachelor’s or master’s degree from some of our best universities, while training in a top career. These degree apprenticeships have been designed by both employers and universities and mean businesses can train more of their employees in the high-level skills that are critical for business growth, while offering ambitious school leavers or experienced professionals looking to upskill the opportunity to learn at university, to degree level.

Thousands of employers already benefit from flexible and high-quality apprenticeship training: 86% say that apprenticeships have helped them develop skills relevant to their organisation, with 78% reporting improved productivity. And evidence shows that apprenticeships are changing apprentices’ lives too: over four in five say the experience has improved their career prospects, with 85% going into work or further training after their apprenticeship ends.

There is also the benefit of increased earning potential too. On average, achieving a Level 2 or 3 apprenticeship boosts earnings by 11% and 16% respectively, while those completing a higher apprenticeship could see increased earnings of an estimated £150,000 over their lifetime.

 

About the National Apprenticeship Service

The National Apprenticeship Service provides a dedicated service to employers, offering free expert advice and support to those looking to recruit apprentices or take on a trainee for the first time, or expand their existing programme.

There has never been a better time to employ an apprentice or a trainee. Hiring an apprentice helps businesses to grow their own talent by developing a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Employers looking to find out more about taking on an apprentice should visit:
W: hireanapprentice.campaign.gov.uk 

People looking for more information and support on applying for an apprenticeship can visit:
getingofar.gov.uk

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