Workforce, Pensions and Training


Apprenticeship reforms driving sector skills success

DfE minister Anne Milton MP says apprenticeships are a great way to make sure our public sector has the skills it needs.

An apprentice is a way for businesses to improve their skills base, attract diverse talent and encourage new ways of working.

Last April we introduced the apprenticeship levy so employers could plug skills gaps, recruit new talent and improve the abilities of their current and future staff through work-based learning. Under the levy, large employers – those with a pay bill of more than £3m – will pay 0.5% of their total wage bill to invest in training staff.

Smaller employers do not pay the levy, and the government pays for 90% of the costs of apprenticeship training and assessment. The employer only needs to find 10% of the cost. The changes we have introduced to the apprenticeship system mean that employers can invest in quality training for their apprentices.

Working for everyone

Apprenticeships are a great way for people to get a career in the public sector – and the chance to earn while they learn. There are now more opportunities than ever before to do apprenticeships in a huge range of professional and technical occupations all the way up to degree level. It gives people a clear route into long-term employment and choice if they do not want to take a purely academic route.

The Civil Service, the Cabinet Office and GCHQ are just some of the public sector employers using apprenticeships to grow their talent base, offering jobs with real prospects that enable learners to gain the essential skills they need for their career – from finance to cyber security.

We want employers and their apprentices to know that they are getting high-quality training. The Institute for Apprenticeships will make sure apprenticeships are of a high standard and that quality is maintained across the board. New apprenticeship standards recently introduced range from ambulance practitioners to nursing to teaching, with many more in development to ensure diverse routes into the sector. We are working closely with employers who lead the developments of these standards to make sure we get the right training for the public sector.

Investing in quality

We recognise that the last year has been a period of significant change, and it will take time for employers to adjust. But we must not lose sight of why we introduced these reforms in the first place – to put quality at the heart of the apprenticeship programme and put control in the hands of employers.

To help this we are boosting investment in apprenticeships to £2.45bn by 2019-20 and to reach three million apprenticeship starts in England by 2020.

Since May 2015 there have been more than 1.2 million people starting an apprenticeship, which will provide each of them with the opportunity to gain the skills they need to get on in life. This is a fantastic achievement, but only the start, as we want to make sure all public sector employers have the skilled workforce they need.

To find out how you can take advantage of the apprenticeship levy, visit


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