Some major apprenticeship rules and funding changes went into effect for the August 2022 to July 2023 year, published by the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). Here we explain more about the updated rules and how you can take advantage of government support to fund your apprenticeship programme.
Apprenticeships are a cost-effective way to bring new skills and knowledge to your businesses. They provide on the job training that allows employees to work and get paid while simultaneously studying for a nationally recognised qualification.
The government is currently prioritising apprenticeships, incentivising training for both employers and employees. You can receive funding from the government to help support apprenticeships, but the funding will vary depending on the duration of the programme and the rates set by the government.
Whether or not you pay the apprenticeship levy is a major factor.
Important news for employers regarding apprenticeship rules
The rule changes that you should be aware of primarily affect off-the-job training, Maths/English requirements, and recognition of prior learning.
Changes to off-the-job training requirements
Until recently, apprentices had to spend a minimum of 20% of their contracted time undertaking off-the-job training.
- The new rules stipulate that they now only need to undertake a minimum of 20% of a 30-hour baseline, which is just 6 hours a week.
- Time has always been the biggest factor that has prevented people from training. So, this change from 20% of contracted time to 20% of a 30-hour baseline will have a big impact. This certainly can ease the burden on employers in terms of how much time needs to be invested in training.
- The previous policy created inequality for many apprentices, especially within industries where longer hours are seen to be the norm.
- Miscalculations were also a recurring audit issue for providers.
Hopefully, with this rule update, apprentices will become accessible to more people.
Key things to remember about off-the-job training rules
- The rule changes affect apprentices who commenced their apprenticeship from 1st August 2022.
- All learners that started prior to this date must continue with the previously agreed hours.
- It’s important to note that the amount of off-the-job-training that is required for an employee will still be guided by the initial apprentice assessment.
- This means that if an employee’s assessment indicates that they need more than the minimum 6-hour requirement, then they will need to undertake the necessary amount of training required to address their personal training needs.
Change in Maths and English requirements
The new rules make some much-needed updates to Maths and English requirements.
- Now, it will no longer be compulsory for apprentices who start a Level 2 apprenticeship without Level 1 English and Maths to take Level 2 English and Maths tests in order to complete their apprenticeship.
- It’s worth noting that while this rule means it’s no longer a requirement, that doesn’t mean that your business needs to alter your standards and if you wish to maintain that as a requirement, you are free to do so.
- Unlike the off-the-job training changes, this change applies to all apprentices regardless of when you started your apprenticeship.
New recognition of prior learning
The Department for Education has now introduced a formula-based approach to help recognise prior learning and reduce training costs.
- This will form part of the first assessment.
- Employers need to support apprentices to work out what prior relevant learning they have that would duplicate off-the-job training, and this will be calculated as a percentage of the total hours of a full programme.
- Funding will be reduced by 50% of the prior learning percentage to recognise there are some fixed costs associated with apprentices.
- Where prior learning is undertaken the apprentice will not duplicate learning activity and the learning and delivery will be reduced accordingly.
Allowances for taking a break in learning
While apprentices have always been able to take a break in learning, this has now been clarified in the new guidance.
- In addition, if an apprentice changes employer, and there is a break in employment for more than 30 days and up to 12 weeks, the main provider does not need to withdraw the apprentice immediately and they can be recorded as on a break in learning.
- They will be withdrawn from the programme after 12 weeks so if a new
employee joins your company and you wish to continue their apprenticeship, make sure you pick this up within the timeframe.
Now that you’re up to date on the new rule of apprenticeships that are important for employers to know, how do you take advantage of the government support for apprenticeship programmes?
Apprentice Scheme Funding
- If your payroll is more than £3 million, you’re automatically paying the apprenticeship levy.
- For those that do receive the levy, as well as the levy allowance, the government will top up your levy payments by 10% – so for every £1 you pay towards the levy, you may spend £1.10.
- There’s good news if you don’t reach the levy threshold.
- Employers who don’t spend more than £3 million in payroll can instead pay 5% of the apprenticeship course cost and the government will supply the difference through a process called ‘co-investment’.
- Don’t wait to use your funds! After 24 months, any unused levy funds will expire and be returned to the government.
We can help you maximise your training budget by making the best use of the Apprenticeship Levy before it expires and help you access other funding streams. Learn more.
What are the benefits of the apprenticeship levy?
The apprenticeship levy is great for businesses and employees alike.
- The levy contributes to a boost in essential training and developing apprenticeship programmes, making your business more attractive to the right talent, and increasing engagement with your existing employees.
- Employers must declare the apprenticeship levy each month from the start of the financial year, so don’t forget!
- It’s easy to use the funds as they sit in a digital account that employers can pull from to arrange and pay for apprenticeship training.
- You’re only allowed to use the money on apprentice training or End-point Assessment.
- By accessing the full amount of your levy funds you’ll not only help your business, but you’ll also be closing the skills gaps in your employees and creating more career development opportunities within your company.
How The Education & Skills Partnership can help
Your business faces unique talent challenges, so getting a bespoke solution that is designed to suit your business and apprentices is the only way to ensure you have a training programme that delivers the results you want.
We’ll do all the heavy lifting to enroll and onboard your new or current staff members and will deliver engaging and compelling programmes to each and every learner.
To learn more about how we can support you, contact a member of our team for a free consultation.