Westminster Employment Forum - Priorities for Apprenticeship funding in England - funding, engagement with business, and revitalising take-up in the wake of COVID-19


Key areas for discussion:

In the wake of pandemic - priorities going forward and future funding frameworks

  • The impact of the pandemic on apprenticeship funding and the ability of companies to take on apprentices - and the way forward
  • Assessing recent policy developments, including the new apprenticeship bonus as part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs 2020 and its likely impact in encouraging companies to take on apprentices
  • The operation of the ESFA-led Post-16 Provider Relief Scheme, now extended to run until October 2020 - and its effectiveness in enabling apprenticeship provider organisations to continue to operate and in ensuring the retention of capacity within the apprenticeships sector
  • Adapting methods and models of delivery - priorities for providers to allow for continued teaching and provision of courses after the conclusion of the relief scheme
  • The current and future operation of the apprenticeship levy, with recent research from the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board finding that few employers feel it has increased the number of apprentices that an employer takes on.
  • The impact of changes to the levy introduced last year and whether these reforms do enough to increase the flexibility of levy funds, looking at:
    • the reduction in the co-investment rate for non-levy paying firms
    • the increase in the percentage that levy-paying firms can transfer to smaller firms in their supply chain
  • Issues for small businesses that fall outside the scope of the levy, meaning that many SMEs are not benefitting from the current programme - with discussion expect on:
    • concerns surrounding the affordability and availability of funding
    • further potential reform to improve take-up, such as the introduction of incentive schemes and delegating greater control of levy funds to small businesses.

Private sector engagement and apprenticeship numbers going forward

  • What more may be needed to ensure continued stakeholder engagement and support from the private sector in the provision of apprenticeships across the UK economy
  • Priorities and potential strategies for policymakers, regulators and businesses in revitalising the numbers of new apprenticeship starters in the aftermath of the pandemic and retaining those studying courses already in progress
  • The effect of new employer-designed apprenticeship standards on apprenticeship quality and uptake rates

Review of apprenticeship funding bands

  • With concerns over value for money and financial viability in cases of funding reductions, discussion on:
    • the process for funding band decisions
    • the likely design of the new model
    • the impact of funding band changes for individual standards