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SKILLS


Three key changes for apprenticeships in 2020


By Corrina Hembury (pictured), Managing Director of Access Training


Apprenticeships are unquestionably good for businesses large and small. The misconception that


apprenticeships only apply to school leavers in lower-skilled positions couldn’t be further from the truth. Across the East Midlands, apprenticeships have supported individuals of all ages overcome common employment challenges: re-training after redundancy; upskilling for career advancement with their current employer; or changing paths to pursue long-held career dreams. How can employers best capitalise


on apprenticeships in 2020? For Levy-paying employers with


a wage bill of over £3m, the perennial problem is how to deploy their Levy allocation in full to protect their future pot. Local employers like Nottingham Community Housing Association are making this happen through continually engaging all colleagues on the versatility of apprenticeships. It may seem counter intuitive to some that apprenticeships present a cheaper option than evening classes; yet that is the case when funds have already been allocated. For smaller employers, 2020


sees a fundamental shift in their contractual agreements.


NEW APPRENTICESHIP SERVICE LAUNCHES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES A new Apprenticeship Service is currently being rolled out to businesses with an annual wage bill of less than £3m. The new scheme applies to any


small business taking on a new apprentice. While current arrangements on apprentice recruitment, employment, management and employer contributions will continue in the same way, there’s a fundamental shift from a contractual relationship between business and training provider to one between business and the ESFA (Education and Skills Funding Agency). The Apprenticeship Service will


allow employers to: get apprenticeship funding; find and save apprenticeships; find, save and manage training providers and recruit and manage apprentices. Small businesses need to set up


their Apprenticeship Service account in advance of employing a new apprentice, particularly if paying the Apprenticeship Minimum Living Wage. Existing apprentices may


continue to be processed according to the current contract arrangement, which is expected to continue for up to two years.


THE END OF APPRENTICESHIP FRAMEWORKS Another imminent change is the withdrawal of old-style Apprenticeship Frameworks during the 2020/2021 academic year. Their successors, the new


Apprenticeship Standards, may have been written by employer-led groups to focus on the specific skills required by each occupation yet concerns have been raised about the disbanding of some levels. The Level 2 Business


Administration Apprenticeship is one example of a much-needed springboard on to eventual management positions for those learners with potential but without qualifications. This and other apprenticeship


levels will no longer be available to new starts after 31 July.


MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE The third significant change to apprenticeships in 2020 comes in the form of the Government’s announcement to increase the National Living Wage, the National Minimum Wage and the Apprenticeship Wage. Setting a rate that values the


work of an apprentice while keeping it affordable for the employer is a tough balancing act but the new rate reflects the interests of both the employers and learners. Apprenticeships remain the most


cost-effective way of filling positions and upskilling businesses and − new Apprenticeship Service, Frameworks retirement and Minimum Wage increases aside − are expected to be put to good use by employers in our region for many years to come.


At a glance… what the Budget means for the Skills drive


• Review of Apprenticeship Levy and assurance that sufficient funding is made available in 2020-21 for SME apprenticeships


• £1.5bn capital investment in college estate over five years • Consultation on £3bn National Skills Fund to improve adult skills • £120m capital investment for up to eight new institutes of technology • £7m for 11 new maths schools • £95m for providers in England to support the rollout of T Levels from Autumn 2021


business network April 2020 81


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