Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the UK’s employment, and with the unfortunate fact that young people have been hardest hit means that we are at risk of losing an entire generation. The government has recognised the importance of apprenticeships in helping the UK economy recover post Covid-19, and this has been acknowledged in the Chancellor’s Plan for Jobs, which was announced early July.
During the delivery of the summer statement, the Chancellor provided further detail into the government’s plan to tackle unemployment post Covid-19. The statement included a number of new initiatives, offering funding incentives and schemes aimed at helping young people. Caroline Turner, Director of Policy & External Relations at JTL, explains what these commitments mean for both learners and employers:
Investing in the future of apprenticeships
Data from the Department of Education reveals that employer vacancies for apprentices in April and May 2020 were 2,020 and 1,850, which compares to 10,400 and 12,580 in the same months of 2019, respectively.
Although this significant 85% drop in apprenticeship vacancies is an exceptionally dismal statistic, it is reassuring that the government is now willing to support apprenticeships and invest sizably to encourage employers to take on more apprentices. This is the optimum time for employers to harness this funding and take on apprentices to further support their individual business, as well as helping the wider Covid-19 economic recovery plan.
Thinking of taking on an apprentice: How can this scheme help you?
One significant initiative being offered by the government to support employers is a cash incentive to take on new apprentices.
In recognition of the value apprentices can bring to our economy, an incentive payment of £2,000 will be made to an employer who hires an apprentice between the age of 16-24 years old, while £1,500 will be paid when an apprentice aged 25 and over is taken on. The payment will be made directly to employers in two equal instalments, where the apprentice is still in learning at day 90 and day 365.
The apprentice must be a new employee to the business, have a contract of employment start date between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021 (inclusive), and must not have been employed by the employer within the six months prior to the contract start date.
This incentive arrangement is in addition to the existing incentives already available.
Small employer apprenticeship cap on starts to increase from three to ten
Since its launch in 2017, the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s online portal, The Apprenticeship Service, was only for levy-paying employers to support them with managing and spending their apprenticeship funding efficiently. However, since the beginning of this year employers who do not pay the apprenticeship levy have been able to create accounts on the service and reserve funding for an apprenticeship in advance of recruitment. This was part of the ESFA’s move away from the use of government-procured contracts, however, non-levy payers were capped at just three starts each due to ongoing affordability issues.
The ESFA has now announced that from August, the number of ‘active’ or ‘used’ reservations available to non-levy payers at any given time will increase from three to ten. This will be available for the financial year 2020-21. This move allows non-levy paying employers to recruit more apprentices for their businesses through the apprenticeship service.
At JTL, we believe that these developments in the funding available to small businesses will have a hugely positive impact on employers being able to make the most of the resources and skilled labour available to them, and in turn further support the country’s economic recovery.
Additionally, the government has pledged to provide 30,000 new Traineeships to raise the employability profile of young people. The Chancellor also confirmed that the government is injecting an additional £111 million this year for Traineeships in England.
This will include incentives of £1,000 per trainee, although this will be limited to 10 trainees per employer.
We are hopeful that the £1000 pledged by the government, for each new work experience place they offer, will help employers provide these important placements. These placements may result in recruiting more young people into our industry.
To learn more about Traineeships and how JTL can support you with hiring 16-18-year-old trainees, click here.
The government’s pledge is to introduce an “initial” new £2 billion Kickstart fund to create “hundreds of thousands of high quality” six-month work placements, aimed at those aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment will not be applicable to apprentices.
How JTL can support
At JTL, we deliver high-quality learning across 100 centres throughout England and Wales, and currently work with over 3,500 businesses with around 8,000 apprentices in learning. We believe the new government initiatives are an important landmark for both Traineeships and apprenticeships and will play an important role in the UK’s recovery effort.
We are already actively supporting businesses who are playing a pivotal role during the current Covid-19 situation through our latest campaign, ‘You are our heroes of today, help us to train the heroes of tomorrow’.
As part of our support offering and to ensure the pipeline of skilled tradespeople continues, we are on-hand to speak to employers who are keen to invest in the training and development of an apprentice, and to help employers make the most of the government financial assistance available to them.
For more information about the services JTL offers, call 0800 085 2308 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author
Caroline Turner is JTL’s Director of Policy & External Relations