In 2019, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) confirmed that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that do not pay the apprenticeship levy will be required to access government apprenticeship funding using its online portal, The Apprenticeship Service (TAS). Caroline Turner, our Director of Policy & External Relations, discusses how JTL can help take the hassle out of navigating the funding changes and explains what this means for your business.
The Apprenticeship Service
With a focus on quality, alongside being able to manage their apprenticeship funding and contracts, the Government’s intention is to give SMEs greater control over choosing their apprenticeships and training provider. However it is recognised that many employers will not want this level of involvement and that is where JTL is ready and able to offer support.
TAS has already been in use for a few years by large levy paying employers with a total paybill of more than £3 million. However, these are just the 2% of the UK’s businesses and it is widely recognised that, certainly in the building services engineering sector, it is the micro and SME businesses who recruit and train the bulk of the craft apprentices.
The ESFA has been testing TAS with a number of SME employers and apprenticeship providers and is now ready for a managed transition extended to all employers from early 2020. During this test phase, additional funding will be made available to fund up to 15,000 new starts through the service.
Did you know? SMEs can also receive up to £1000 money back in instalments in the first year when taking on a 16-18-year-old. Plus, if you take on an apprentice aged 19 or over, you pay only 5% of the training fees over a four-year period.
What impact will the funding changes have?
The main difference will be that JTL will no longer hold a government funding contract for new apprentice starts. Funding will instead be accessed via individual employer accounts. Existing apprentices whose funding arrangements are already in place will not be affected.
The transition will commence between January and March 2020 for a limited number of new starts and JTL intends to participate during this pilot period. Members of JTL field staff, who are already well experienced with working with levy paying and therefore familiar with the systems, will support employers during this period by assisting them to set up their accounts and reserve funding for apprentices due to start during this period. We will also offer centralised administration services to employers to support access to funding and management of the accounts.
We recognise – and ESFA have confirmed – that there are likely to be updates and amendments to the system as the transition period progresses and more and more employers start to use it. As such, JTL will be keeping up-to-date with all developments as they happen, being ideally placed to be the first port of call for employers planning to use or already working with the new portal. JTL is keeping employers informed through our website and our local staff.
For us to begin the process, it’s essential that employers know their Government Gateway ID. If you don’t already have this, you can easily obtain it from your accountant.
While we are in the early phases of the changes to apprenticeship funding, JTL is ready and working with employers to make the transitioning process easier.
Our continuing aim is to make taking on and training an apprentice as simple and hassle free for employers as possible. With 30 years of experience in this field behind us, we are well placed to be the primary source of information and support to help employers through these latest government funding changes.
The ways we support SMEs
At JTL, we’re dedicated to helping take the strain off employers and support them at every stage of the process. We assign each business a dedicated training officer who stays with you and your apprentice throughout the qualification process. They will offer an extensive knowledge of industry frameworks, arrange all your apprentice needs including college and training centres, and provide them with a dedicated assessor.
JTL also has a dedicated national customer service unit with experts available to answer any queries or questions you may have.
To find out more about JTL’s apprenticeship costing and funding options, click here.