Keith-Smith Delive, Director of Apprenticeships, Education and Skills Funding Agency
We’re just over halfway through the year and it’s amazing to see support for apprenticeships continuing to grow.
Our latest figures show 84,720 people started an apprenticeship between January 2019 and March 2019 – proof that more people are recognising the benefits apprenticeships offer. It’s also fantastic to see that over 65% of apprenticeship starts between that same period were on our new style higher-quality apprenticeship programmes known as ‘standards’- designed by employers so apprentices learn the skills they need.
This is great progress and shows that our reforms to apprenticeships are having an impact. Apprenticeships are now much improved. they are longer, higher-quality and with more off-the-job training and a proper assessment at the end. They are offering people of all ages and backgrounds a high-quality route to skilled employment with the option to train at every level in a range of exciting professions like aerospace engineering, cyber security, teaching, law, nursing, and fashion.
I previously wrote about how our apprenticeship reforms have helped to transform businesses and nationally we are seeing more and more employers investing in apprenticeships including Greene King, Norfolk County Council and the NHS.
It is good news too that employers across East Anglia are also embracing the benefits apprenticeships bring to their workplaces, with over 21,300 apprenticeship starts in total (including those on our new higher-quality apprenticeship standards) in the East of England region in the first half of 2018/19.
The Levy is playing a key role in helping to create long term sustainable funding for apprenticeships. It has given employers of all sizes the flexibility to provide their staff with a range of training opportunities. By 2019-20 the funding available for investment in apprenticeships in England will have risen to over £2.5 billion, double what was spent in 2010-11 in cash terms. Since, the introduction of the Levy has supported over almost 313,000 people to start their apprenticeship journey.
We recognise that employers want and need flexibility. Following feedback, we have introduced more flexibility to the levy rules. so that levy paying employers can now transfer up to 25% of their funds to smaller employers. This move will help give smaller businesses the opportunity to invest in training opportunities for their staff.
We work with a range of partners including the Federation of Small Businesses and the British Chambers of Commerce to help ensure employers of all sizes are aware of the amazing apprenticeship opportunities available.
We are also working to move non-levy paying employers onto the award-winning digital apprenticeship service which will give small and medium sized businesses a greater choice of quality training providers, and the opportunity to have more control over apprenticeship training decisions for their business.
We will continue to work closely with employers of all sizes to make sure they can take advantage of apprenticeships in a way that works best for them and so we are generating the skills that individuals need to progress and that will also help us drive increased productivity.
We had a record-breaking National Apprenticeships Week this year too, with over 1250 events across the country. We are also developing a new leader board of top apprenticeship employers– the new rankings will be independently judged and published annually and will rate the Top 100 large apprentice employers as well as the top 50 SMEs.
But while things have greatly improved, we know that outdated and ‘snobbish’ attitudes to technical and vocational training are still putting people off apprenticeships which means they’re missing out on great jobs as well as higher salaries. Since launching our new ‘Fire It Up’ campaign and [website] earlier this year – which aims to raise awareness of the huge variety of apprenticeship options available for people of all ages and backgrounds.
I am very proud of the progress we have made. The evidence is clear – apprenticeships improve businesses and transform people’s lives, but there is still more to do. We need more employers of all sizes and people of all ages backgrounds to embrace apprenticeships. So, do please take a look at our new website www.apprenticeships. gov.uk it provides lots of helpful advice and you can find out about all the great apprenticeship opportunities available.