Employers could be in line to receive funding to purchase the apprenticeship training desired, according to new plans.
Business secretary Vince Cable is acting on reforms put forward by former Dragons’ Den investor Doug Richard as part of his report which called on the government to create ‘true apprenticeships’.
Under the framework set out by the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), employers will be given freedom to choose the training that is most relevant to the apprentices and the business.
There are three possible models being tauted: a direct payment option which sees businesses register apprentices and report claims for funding through an online system; PAYE payment, where companies register apprentices through a new system and then recover costs through PAYE; and a provider payment structure whereby government funding continues to be paid to training providers – but which can only be drawn down on if when employers make a financial contribution towards training.
Cable believes that employers are the best to judge what training is worth investing in.
He adds, ‘It gives them the power to train their staff to make sure their skills are relevant to the company, while choosing form the wide range of courses available.
‘These measure are all part of the wider reforms the government is making to the apprenticeship system. By putting quality ahead of quantity and giving the training that companies actually want, we are helping to create jobs and support business.’
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The coalition is also, reportedly, consulting on ways to make it easier for businesses to take on an apprentice. Presently, those with less than 1,000 staff can receive a £1,500 Apprenticeship Grant for Employers for another wryer.
Amongst Richard’s recommendations levelled at David Cameron’s coalition government in The Richard Review of Apprenticeships back in November 2012 was a need to refine apprenticeships, making them targeted only at those who are new to a job or role that requires sustained and substantial training.
He also said that recognised industry standards should form the basis of every apprenticeship and apprentices should reach a ‘good level’ in English and maths before they can complete their training.
Commenting on the new government changes, Michael Davis, chief executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, says, ‘Apprenticeships are a proven way of delivering highly productive, well-trained and loyal staff, access to a successful career for young people and strong benefits for the exchequer and the economy as a whole. Yet only 15 per cent of UK employers offer them.’