Financial incentives in place to help employers create apprenticeship programmes should be extended to continue beyond the end of the furlough scheme, councils have said.
The current scheme provides employers, including local authorities, with an additional £3,000 to take on an apprentice and is due to end at the end of September, the same date as the end of the government’s furlough scheme.
Councils have received at least £4.1m in incentives since they were introduced in August 2020.
The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling on the government to extend the duration of the incentives until at least 31 March 2022.
They say this would enable employers to use them as part of local economic recovery plans and to ensure that no opportunities to create apprenticeships are lost.
The LGA is concerned that without an extension to the apprenticeship incentives beyond 30 September, opportunities to get residents into high-quality apprenticeships will be lost, just at the time that an increase in unemployment is possible as the furlough scheme comes to an end.
An exclusive LGA survey of councils has revealed that:
- Local authorities have so far invested more than £200m to create over 55,000 apprenticeship starts in 150 different qualifications over the last four years.
- 43% of councils found an increase in interest in apprentices from maintained schools as a result of the incentive scheme. Schools have struggled to make effective use of the apprenticeship levy and local authorities are concerned that this increase in activity, driven by the incentives, may not be sustainable if they are withdrawn as planned next month.
Chair of the LGA’s City Regions Board, Councillor Sir Richard Leese said:
“Councils and combined authorities have done a magnificent job driving employment and apprenticeship opportunities within their local communities, continuing this hard work throughout the pandemic.
“It is clear that as the furlough scheme is phased out, there is the real possibility of a rise in the number of people out of work or training.
“To ensure people can get access to apprenticeships when they are needed the most, it is vitally important that the incentive scheme is extended.
“This scheme has already helped businesses and local authorities create tens of thousands of life-changing apprenticeship opportunities to people in their local communities.
“By extending the scheme, councils can work with local employers and the government to ensure that the country builds back better from the pandemic.
“Knowing their communities best, councils are uniquely placed to bring all partners together to create greater opportunities for those who are unemployed and help achieve our shared ambition with government to level up across the country.”
PSE will be hosting a Learning & Development event on 3 February 2022. Join us for the event by registering here.