To mark National Apprenticeship Week, Sue Husband, director of the National Apprenticeship Service, explains how apprenticeships are helping more people to progress in work and life.
National Apprenticeship Week 2018 takes place from 5 to 9 March. It’s a week-long celebration of apprenticeships in England designed to showcase how apprenticeships work for individuals, businesses, communities and the wider economy.
During this week, employers and apprentices will come together to celebrate the success of apprenticeships while encouraging even more people to choose an apprenticeship as the pathway to a great career.
Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for people to earn while they learn, gain vital work experience and set themselves on a fast-track to a successful career for life. Lasting between one and five years, apprenticeships are now available in over hundreds of occupations in many industries.
For people of all ages and backgrounds, apprenticeships offer a ladder of opportunity for people to gain the life changing skills they need and enable businesses to acquire the critical skills they need for business growth. Since 2015, we’ve seen over 1.2 million apprenticeship starts to date more opportunities for people of all ages and from all backgrounds.
The growing impact on employers
Apprenticeships work for individuals, businesses, communities and the wider economy. They give people the opportunity to earn while developing important and relevant skills valued by employers, increasing earning potential and providing the foundations for career success, with more than 85% of apprentices staying in employment after their course ends.
We know that apprenticeships are having a growing impact on employers and individuals across the country, but we know we can do more. The government is committed to ensuring that there is an apprenticeship out there for everyone and is taking steps to increase the number of apprenticeships on offer, investing £2.5billion to reach the target of 3million apprenticeship starts by 2020.
But we do not just want to see more apprenticeships; we want better apprenticeships in more sectors, covering more roles; and we want to persuade more employers to offer apprenticeships. Our reforms give employers a real stake in this.
Quality is crucial and that is why the government has created a new independent body, the Institute for Apprenticeships, which supports the quality of new apprenticeship standards and puts employers at the heart of decision-making processes.
Alongside the Institute for Apprenticeships, groups of employers called ‘Trailblazers’ are designing new apprenticeship standards that equip learners with the transferable skills and knowledge that employers want. There are more than 1,400 employers involved in developing new apprenticeships. Around 250 ‘Trailblazers’ have already developed over 200 approved standards – with a further 300 in development.
How has Apprenticeship funding changed?
The past year has seen significant changes to the way that apprenticeships are funded. Our apprenticeship reforms, the largest government has ever made, have put control back into the hands of employers so they will gain the skilled workforce they need to compete globally. The introduction of a UK-wide apprenticeship levy last April have been a crucial part of these reforms, helping to fund a step change in apprenticeship numbers and quality.
Through the levy, £2.5 billion will be invested in apprenticeships by 2019-20, double the amount spent in 2010-11. Employers with a pay bill of over £3 million pay 0.5% through the levy each month, which can then be reinvested in training and assessments either for new apprentices or to upskill existing employees, via the online apprenticeship service.
Meanwhile, non-levy paying employers – those with a pay bill under £3m – receive 90% of apprenticeship training and assessment costs.
With more money than ever, we will be helping people get into more and better quality apprenticeships.
We expect employers to take their time to plan high quality, well thought through apprenticeship provision that meets their specific needs, with two years to spend their levy funds, and maximise the opportunities an apprenticeship can bring for both the learner and employer. Feedback we have had shows employers are doing exactly that.
We are also continuing to help those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Through the levy, the government is investing £60 million in supporting the training of apprentices from the poorest areas in the country, as well as providing an additional £150 a month for training providers to give extra learning support to an apprentice with learning or other disabilities to ensure social mobility for all.
Enhancing the reputation of Apprenticeships
The government’s ambition is to create a professional and technical education system that puts skills at the forefront of learning and ensures that we have the skills that employers need to grow. Classroom based learning does not suit everybody and apprenticeships are a chance to learn in a practical, work-based environment. But it’s no longer a case of choosing between university or learning on the job.
Those who wish to study while they learn can now apply for a higher or degree apprenticeship, which provides the opportunity to get a bachelor’s or master’s degree from some of our best universities, while training in a top career.
These degree apprenticeships have been designed by both employers and universities and mean businesses can train more of their employees in the high-level skills that are critical for business growth, while offering ambitious school leavers or experienced professionals looking to upskill the opportunity to learn at university, to degree level.
Thousands of employers already benefit from flexible and high-quality apprenticeship training: 86% of employers say that apprenticeships have helped them develop skills relevant to their organisation, with 78% reporting improved productivity. And evidence shows that apprenticeships are changing apprentices’ lives too: over four in five say the experience has improved their career prospects, with 85% going into work or further training after their apprenticeship ends.
There is also the benefit of increased earning potential too. On average, achieving a Level 2 or 3 apprenticeship boosts earnings by 11% and 16% respectively, while those completing a higher apprenticeship could see increased earnings of an estimated £150,000 over their lifetime.
There has never been a better time to employ an apprentice or a trainee. Hiring an apprentice helps businesses to grow their own talent by developing a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce.
If you want to find out more about taking on an apprentice, visit: hireanapprentice.campaign.gov.uk.