The UK Government has announced planned reforms to the current system from August 2022 with the aim of making it simpler for employers, training providers and apprentices themselves.
Over the past 5 years employer-led trailblazer groups have created more than 640 Apprenticeship standards to meet their skills needs. Training is delivered by registered providers which are regularly inspected. Apprentices complete a rigorous end-point assessment, so employers know that they are fully competent in their role.
Minister for Skills Alex Burghart said: “We have transformed apprenticeships so they offer a high-quality route into professions as diverse as engineering, healthcare, and digital for young people starting their careers, or adults hoping to retrain and upskill.
“We now want to focus on making the system as simple and user-friendly as possible, reducing bureaucratic burdens on employers and providers and giving apprentices the best possible experience.”
These improvements include:
- making it simpler for individuals to accelerate their apprenticeship by placing a greater focus on provider assessment of prior learning and experience. By improving how providers take account of this at the start of their apprenticeship - and funding them to do a robust upfront assessment - apprentices will be able to cut out training they do not require and complete their apprenticeship more quickly. This means that they can spend more time in the workplace and will become fully competent sooner, boosting employer productivity and their own earnings potential.
- introducing a consistent baseline for off-the-job training, specifying the minimum number of hours that a full-time apprentice must spend in training. This will simplify the reporting for providers and create a level-playing field among apprentices who are on the same standard but working different hours. This means that apprentices who work more than 30 hours a week will be able to spend more time on the job delivering for employers, while still getting the vital training they need to complete their apprenticeships.
- changing English and maths requirements for those Level 2 apprentices who start with the lowest level of prior attainment in English and maths. People who start a L2 apprenticeship without L1 English and maths will no longer need to automatically attempt L2 English and Maths tests to complete their apprenticeship. It will mean that thousands of L2 apprentices can focus on securing a L1 English and Maths qualification with only those who are really ready to take the Level 2 tests attempting them.
- providing a more efficient payment service for providers by reducing the data needed to make payments and improving Apprenticeship Service financial reports, helping providers understand what they are being paid for each apprenticeship and why. Government will start testing these improvements towards the end of the year and will also do more to ensure that all employers promptly receive their £1,000 additional support payment if they take on an eligible young apprentice. Having engaged employers and providers on changing payment profiles, a clear message has been received that system simplicity is the priority for them, so there are no changes being made to payment profiles.”
Recognising the proposed improvements, UK Metal Council Chair, Chris McDonald, said, “The metals sector is currently experiencing complex trading conditions with rising energy prices supply chain shortages and increasing legislation. I welcome the proposal to make the current apprenticeship systems more accessible and to reduce the bureaucratic burden on employers. Our sector needs highly skilled people who add value to a business and who can progress through an Apprenticeship system and gain the skills required for a modern production environment. The significant supply chain associated with the re-cycling and re-use of metals is an increasingly important part of the UK’s circular economy. I urge the government to recognise this contribution and to support the sector in developing new “Green Skills” necessary for the future.”
Dr Pam Murrell, Chief Executive Officer of the Cast Metals Federation, one of the members of the UKMC added, “Skills and recruitment issues are particularly challenging at present with a shortage of trained people entering our sector and more people retiring with specialist ‘hard to replace’ skills. At the same time the metals sector in the UK is very diverse, ranging from large multinationals producing primary raw materials, to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) located all around the UK – this makes centralised training programmes very difficult to establish and it is hard to recruit and retain apprentices. UK Metals Council is working to support employers in the sector, and we welcome these improvements. As an active participant in influential groups such as the Apprenticeships in Manufacturing (AIM) group and the National Manufacturing Skills Task Force, our membership of such groups raises the profile of our sector and provides a means of influencing government to make improvements to the apprenticeship system like the ones announced today.”
More details on forthcoming changes
The changes to recognition of prior learning, off-the-job training and English and maths are due to come into effect in August 2022 and are outlined in the draft apprenticeship funding rules for main providers (August 2022 to July 2023), the draft Apprenticeship funding rules for employer-providers (August 2022 to July 2023) and the draft Apprenticeship funding rules and guidance for employers (August 2022 to July 2023). All three documents are available on GOV.UK.
The rules are issued in draft to give providers and employers an opportunity to provide feedback on how we can make them clearer or better understood. Please email any suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org 24 June 2022. Following a review of feedback, we will then issue a final version of the rules in July.