Recent changes to the apprenticeship levy scheme mean that SMEs which do not pay the levy can now start to arrange their own apprenticeships. From this month, employers will be able to create an account, reserve access to funding and choose a Registered Apprenticeship Training Provider.
Employers can go direct to a Training Provider with an existing Government contract or work through the Apprenticeship Service, but in the autumn, the Apprenticeship Service will take responsibility for all new apprenticeship starts, a move designed to facilitate planning and ensure that funding is in place when the apprenticeship commences.
Securing funding is a staged process. Firstly ‘reservation’ and secondly, ‘commitment’ once the training provider and the apprentice details are confirmed. Once everything is agreed, funding can be released to the training provider.
The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is keen to ensure the programme remains affordable. Consequently, it’s allowing individual employers to reserve funds for a maximum of three apprenticeship starts, and you should also note that the scheme covers apprenticeship standards only and not frameworks.
It’s good news for SMEs – particularly those operating in smaller markets or based in rural areas – who’ll now be able to offer apprenticeships. But funds are limited, so if you want to take advantage of the change, look sharp.