Last April we introduced the apprenticeship levy to help employers plug specific skills gaps, recruit new talent and improve the abilities of their staff through work-based learning.
Under the levy, employers with a pay bill of more than £3m give the equivalent of 0.5pc of that bill to invest in apprenticeship training, putting the funding for apprenticeships firmly in their hands, and encouraging them to invest in quality training for their apprentices.
Employers have two years to draw from the levy fund once registered, and feedback we have received from those that have shows they are planning to increase their demand for apprenticeships
We have changed the way apprenticeships are funded to reflect the introduction of the levy, as well as to simplify some of the complex arrangements that previously existed.
For non-levy-paying employers, the Government will co-invest by paying 90pc of the cost of training and assessment while the employer pays the remaining 10pc of the balance.
We’ve also just finished a procurement exercise worth £485m to fund high-quality training providers to deliver training for non-levy-paying employers.
The process was designed to ensure that smaller businesses who do not pay the apprenticeship levy can access high-quality apprenticeship training to support their growth and success until they move on to the apprenticeship service, no matter where they are in the country or what sector they operate in.
Since May 2015 there have been more than 1.1 million individuals 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 businesses have the skilled workforce they need.
The levy and other reforms the Government has introduced will ensure that high-quality apprenticeship opportunities are made available for millions of people, whatever their age or background. These will be jobs with real prospects and enable learners to grasp the essential skills they require for their career.
Quality is at the heart of our reforms, which is why the Institute for Apprenticeships is working hard to make sure apprenticeships are of a high standard and that quality is maintained across the board.
Earn while you learn
I feel strongly about challenging the idea that apprenticeships are not prestigious, and that university is the “default” option after school. There are now more opportunities than ever before to do apprenticeships in a huge range of technical and professional occupations all the way up to degree level, giving learners a clear route into long-term employment and choice if they do not want to take a purely academic route.
Apprenticeships give individuals the opportunity to earn while they learn, and we are clear that apprenticeships should have the same parity of esteem as their academic counterparts.
Ultimately we want businesses and individuals alike to have access to the skills they need to grow, and we want everyone to be able to pursue the education and career that is right for them – not the one that they feel they ought to follow. Our apprenticeship reforms aim to do that.
Learn more about the business benefits of taking on apprentices, search ‘apprenticeships’ on GOV.UK