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Five things you need to know about the new apprenticeships - and how to prepare your business

The apprenticeship system in England is currently going through its biggest change in decades. With new, business-led apprenticeship standards available for the hospitality, retail, aviation and travel industries - and the government’s apprenticeship levy due to kick in next April – there’s never been a better time to make apprenticeships part of your talent strategy.

Apprenticeships are also a proven solution to tackling staff turnover – 80% of companies who invest in apprentices report an increase in staff retention.

Whether you’re already employing apprentices or are dipping your foot in the water for the first time – if you want your business to really benefit from the new system, here’s what you need to know...

1. All businesses with a pay bill of over £3 million must pay an apprenticeship levy from April 2017.

The government is introducing an apprenticeship levy in April 2017, to encourage employers to commit to employing apprentices and growing their productivity. Employers with a pay bill over £3 million will have to pay an annual levy of 0.5% of their pay bill, which can only be recouped when they employ and train apprentices.

TIP: If you want to make sure you get the best results from your levy payment, you need to start planning now. You should work out what impact it will have on your business and develop an apprenticeship strategy to ensure you maximise your return on the levy investment. For a summary on the apprenticeship levy, watch our short video.

2. The new standards define the skills, knowledge and behaviours required for a given job role.

The new-style apprenticeships have been developed by employers and state exactly what an apprentice should be able to do once they complete their programme. This is very different from the existing apprenticeships, which specify a collection of qualifications an apprentice must take.

TIP: Look across your business to see which of the new standards, covering entry level through to managerial roles, can be used to develop your talent and increase productivity and retention.

3. The training is not prescribed, so you can choose in-house or external programmes.

You have flexibility in the training your apprentice undertakes as long as it meets the apprenticeship standard - so you can decide the combination of training that best suits your business needs. 

TIP: Think about the internal and external programmes that will benefit your business, and how they meet the standards. For support on implementing the new standards, join one of our upcoming webinars or seminars.

4. You can use an external training provider or your in-house team to deliver the training.

If you plan to use an external training provider, you’ll need to identify the one that best meets your needs. All apprenticeship providers must be on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (which is currently being established).

Alternatively, if you choose to deliver the training in-house, you’ll need to register your business as a provider on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers.

TIP: Think about which of the above solutions will work best for your business. If you decide to work with a provider, you should start putting together a shortlist of organisations you want to speak to. Our accredited provider network – recognised for their excellence in training delivery – can help you find training providers with a particular specialism in your industry. You’ll also be able to find registered providers through the Digital Apprenticeship Service, available to levy paying employers from February 2017 and non-levy paying employers from 2018.

If you decide to deliver apprenticeship training in-house, this guidance document from the Department for Education will help to take you through the steps involved.

5. All apprentices will need to go through an end assessment to ensure they meet the standard.

Apprentices must pass an ‘end assessment’ at the end of the programme, which checks their competence and ensures the apprentice is ready to progress.

As an employer, you’ll be responsible for deciding when your apprentice is ready for the assessment, and you’ll need to be confident that they have covered the full standard. Their progress should be regularly reviewed and recorded throughout the programme.

You’ll need to choose an assessment organisation to carry out the end-point assessment, and your training provider will contract with them on your behalf. If you’re delivering the training yourself, you will need to contract with them directly.

TIP: To find assessment organisations that are approved to assess the standards in our industries you’ll be able to search the Register of Apprenticeship Assessment Organisations via the Digital Apprenticeship Service.

Supporting documentation, including a guide to apprenticeship training and on-programme progression template, will be available from People 1st.


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