Over the past five years apprenticeships have been transformed into a high-quality skills programme for learners and employers. Employers have created more than 640 standards to meet their skills needs, training is delivered by registered providers which are regularly inspected, and apprentices complete rigorous end-point assessment, so employers know that they are fully competent in their role.
Having reformed the apprenticeships programme, the Department for Education now want to make it simpler to use for employers, training providers and apprentices themselves. To this end, apprenticeships will be further improved from August 2022.
Minister for Skills Alex Burghart said: “We have transformed apprenticeships so they offer a high-quality route into professions as diverse as engineering, healthcare, and digital for young people starting their careers, or adults hoping to retrain and upskill. We now want to focus on making the system as simple and user-friendly as possible, reducing bureaucratic burdens on employers and providers and giving apprentices the best possible experience.”
These improvements include:
- Making it simpler for individuals to accelerate their apprenticeship by placing a greater focus on provider assessment of prior learning and experience. By improving how providers take account of this at the start of their apprenticeship and funding them to do a robust upfront assessment, apprentices will be able to cut out training they do not require and complete their apprenticeship more quickly. This means that they can spend more time in the workplace and will become fully competent sooner, boosting employer productivity and their own earnings potential.
- Introduce a consistent baseline for off-the-job training, specifying the minimum number of hours that a full-time apprentice must spend in training. This will simplify the reporting for providers and create a level-playing field among apprentices who are on the same standard but working different hours. This means that apprentices who work more than 30 hours a week will be able to spend more time on the job delivering for employers, while still getting the vital training they need to complete their apprenticeships.
- Changing English and maths requirements for those Level 2 apprentices who start with the lowest level of prior attainment in English and maths. People who start a L2 apprenticeship without L1 English and maths will no longer need to automatically attempt L2 English and Maths tests to complete their apprenticeship. It will mean that thousands of L2 apprentices can focus on securing a L1 English and Maths qualification with only those who are really ready to take the Level 2 tests attempting them.
- Provide a more efficient payment service for providers by reducing the data needed to make payments and improving Apprenticeship Service financial reports, helping providers understand what they are being paid for each apprenticeship and why. DfE will start testing these improvements towards the end of the year. They will also do more to ensure that all employers promptly receive their £1,000 additional support payment if they take on an eligible young apprentice. Having engaged employers and providers on changing payment profiles, DfE received a clear message that system simplicity is the priority for them, so they are not making changes to our payment profiles.
More details on forthcoming changes
The changes to recognition of prior learning, off-the-job training and English and maths are due to come into effect in August 2022 and are outlined in the draft apprenticeship funding rules for main providers (August 2022 to July 2023), the draft Apprenticeship funding rules for employer-providers (August 2022 to July 2023) and the draft Apprenticeship funding rules and guidance for employers (August 2022 to July 2023) All three documents are available on GOV.UK.
The rules are issued in draft to give providers and employers an opportunity to provide feedback on how we can make them clearer or better understood. Please email any suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org by 24 June 2022. Following a review of feedback, we will then issue a final version of the rules in July.
George Swann FIS Skills and Training Lead says, “Any improvement to simplify the system of qualifying people through apprenticeships is most welcome. FIS are here to help employer members navigate the process from recruiting apprentices to celebrating achievement. Take a look at the FIS Apprentice – Guidance for Employers. Most employers will be eligible for financial support including an extra £2000 grant from CITB. If you would like to chat through the various options give us a call on 0121 707 0077 or email email@example.com”.
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