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London Business Matters

66 APPRENTICESHIPS The Brave New World of Apprenticeships – Are You Ready? By Richard Goodwin Managing Director, The JGA Group MORE THAN nine hundred thousand people participated in an apprenticeship programme in 2015/16. Sounds like a good score. So why is the government changing a winning formula? One problem is that apprenticeships are perceived by most people to be GCSE equivalent college-based packages of recruitment and training for young people. They’re seen to be designed to provide engineering firms and the like with a long term tailor-made workforce at reasonable cost (and with government funded benefits). In fact, according to the House of Commons Library’s review of apprenticeship statistics, 44% of Apprentices are aged 25 or higher. Apprenticeships are predominantly aimed at roles with relatively low formal skill levels, with business administration, health and social care and retail accounting for 71% of all apprenticeship starts. Furthermore, in London the bulk of on the ground provision is delivered by private sector providers like us – The JGA Group Nevertheless, mentoring and developing a young inexperienced apprentice can take a lot of a manager’s time and is a contributor to high national failure rates. And that’s what the government is aiming to rectify. In May 2017, the world of apprenticeships changes! A series of measures mean that all well organised firms should look again at what apprenticeship training can do for them. Large companies will shoulder a mandatory pay roll tax called the Apprenticeship Levy to reserve funds which can only be spent on…apprenticeships. Just as importantly the nature of apprenticeships will be redefined, with graduates able to take an apprenticeship for the first time. Just imagine, university graduates will have funded job-specific training. This can be framed as a graduate training programme (or indeed an existing graduate training programme may be re-purposed to utilise the Levy funding). Similarly, the Levy can be used to upskill your existing workforce, and to prepare your staff for their next career move. Stop thinking about an apprentice as a sometimes unpredictable young recruit and consider it as a package of valuable bespoke training for long serving staff whose skills you want to develop, but have never quite had the funds to do so. The training need not be at the traditional Level 2 -- new-style apprenticeships will be available up to Level 7 (equivalent to a master’s degree) and some include a university degree. The third major change is the introduction of new delivery rules. Large qualified organisations will be able to count their own in-house training as part of an apprenticeship. This could be technically a sub-contract from a registered provider (I know this sounds odd but in the context of a highly quality controlled industry like funded training it does make sense). Large organisations may even wish to register as providers themselves, but beware the reputational risk. Firms such as Citroen UK, Next and Pearson have all been rated “Inadequate” by Ofsted in recent years. Finally, if you are a small company which has in the past been asked for a substantial financial contribution towards the cost of an apprenticeship then you will be pleased to know that from May your contribution will be reduced to only 10% of the value of the apprenticeship. The absolute amount of this of course depends upon the complexity and level of the apprenticeship. There remain other government funded financial incentives as well. If you have worked with an apprentice before and found that the academic commitment was taxing then don’t be afraid to try again. In today’s world most apprenticeships are determined by subject-specific frameworks, such as business administration. In the new world post-May 2017 this changes entirely to new Standards which have been designed by industry to match the needs of specific jobs, such as Events Management Assistant, Digital Marketer or Adult Care Worker. You might find that the new way of doing things better matches your needs. It’s time for us all to wake up and prepare for the new world of apprenticeships, which is dawning in May 2017! At JGA, one of London’s leading apprenticeship providers, we’re gearing up for it. Let us know if we can help you get the most out of the new opportunities it will offer. i Richard Goodwin Email: apprentices@jga-group.co.uk Call: 0208 426 2666 www.jga-group.com


London Business Matters
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