Editor's message: The Government is hoping that an increased use of apprenticeships will help to improve the UK's productivity levels and address skills shortages.
Apprenticeships are in-work training programmes under which the apprentice engages in on- and off-the-job learning and development activities that will lead to a work-based qualification.
As well as being a way of attracting school leavers to your organisation, apprenticeships can be used to develop the skills of your existing staff as part of their ongoing training and development. There are levels of apprenticeship available from equivalent to GCSE up to a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Employers are now more than a year into the new funding system for apprenticeships, following the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April 2017.
If your organisation has a paybill of more than £3 million you must pay the levy (set at 0.5% of the paybill), and employers that operate in England - regardless of their paybill size - can claim funding from the levy to pay for apprenticeship training and end-point assessment.
Rachel Sharp, HR practice editor
The Government should extend the timeframe employers have to spend their apprenticeship levy funds from 24 to 48 months - the average length of an engineering apprenticeship - to avoid manufacturing businesses losing their apprenticeship funding.
The number of people beginning an apprenticeship fell by almost a quarter (24%) in the first six months of the academic year.
Employers stand accused of rebranding existing low-skilled roles as apprenticeships in order to make use of funding available through the apprenticeship levy.
More than £1bn in apprenticeship funding available through the apprenticeship levy has not been used - and employers have just one year left to spend it.
The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has raised concerns that the Government is being too slow to publish guidance on off-the-job training requirements for apprenticeships.
Almost all NHS trusts in England plan to use their apprenticeship levy training fund, but would like more flexibility over how it could be spent.
Most employers feel that middle and senior managers would be unwilling to be seen as an apprentice, meaning that businesses will miss out on funding for leadership training as apprenticeships become a key source of employers' training budget.
Apprenticeships seem a convenient response to skills shortages in a number of UK industries. But as we celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, award-winning apprentice Magdalena Dyga says policy-makers and employers need to do more to show the value of this career route if they really want it to gain traction.
Employers that pay the apprenticeship levy will be able to use their training fund to pay for the development of executive skills, after the funding band for the senior leader Master's degree apprenticeship was given the green light.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to apprenticeships.