The Enterprise Bill received Royal Assent and became the Enterprise Act on 4th May 2016 with one of the measures introduced being aimed at boosting the quality and quantity of apprenticeships. This act intends to protect and strengthen the apprenticeship brand, introduce targets for apprenticeships in public sector bodies in England, and establish an Institute for Apprenticeships – an independent, employer-led body that will make sure apprenticeships meet the needs of business.
The name ‘Apprenticeship’ is protected by this legislation to prevent misuse – so it is important to understand what it actually means.
What is an apprenticeship?
There are rules governing what an apprenticeship is. The main ones are:
the apprentice must be employed in a real job
apprentices do not have to be new to the organisation; they may be an existing employee who is receiving appropriate training
the apprentice must work towards achieving an approved apprenticeship standard or apprenticeship framework
the apprenticeship training must last at least 12 months
the apprentice must spend at least 20% of their time on off-the-job training
Apprenticeship frameworks contain the statutory requirements for an apprenticeship programme and were developed to make sure that all programmes are delivered consistently and meet national standards. They contain a list of required qualifications that could be combined to achieve the overall apprenticeships and include a range of over 250 frameworks designed to cover over 1200 job roles.
Move to apprenticeship standards.
Current apprenticeship frameworks are being phased out and replaced by employer developed apprenticeship standards. It is the intention that all frameworks will be replaced by 2020 when all job roles have appropriate standards agreed. Standards are being developed both to replace current frameworks and also to develop new apprenticeships for job roles not previously covered by the apprenticeship scheme. If you are due to be paying the levy it is worth considering how you could use these new standards to upskill your business or even if you need to join a group of like-minded employers to develop a new standard to cover your business needs.
Institute for Apprenticeships
There will be a new Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) to support employer-led reforms and regulate the quality of apprenticeships so that only standards valued by employers are approved. An independent chair will lead a small board made up primarily of employers and business leaders to ensure employers continue to drive up apprenticeship quality. It is the intention that the IfA will be fully operational by April 2017, but it is likely to take on functions in a phased approach during 2016.
Training and assessment costs
From April 2017 every apprenticeship standard and framework will be placed in a funding band which will set the maximum amount of funding that can be used towards training and assessment costs, over the length of each apprenticeship. The actual cost of training will be agreed between the employer and training provider and this will set the employer contribution required. This contribution will either be taken from the digital apprenticeship service levy payment or paid directly to the training provider. There will be some government support for non-levy paying employers with further details available from June 2016. There will also be additional support available for employer of 16-18 year old apprentices and apprentices with additional needs to cover the extra supervision costs involved.
English and maths training for apprentices
All apprentices need to work toward English and maths standards up to Level 2 as set out in the framework or standard and the government will continue to fund training for these qualifications for any apprentice that does not have these when they start their programme.