Following changes to the way in which apprenticeships are being organised and funded, the new Apprenticeship Growth Service (AGS) has been launched to help Greater Manchester businesses get the most from the new system.
Developed by the Workforce Development (WFD) team at the Business Growth Hub, the service offers impartial advice to businesses looking to grow through recruitment, training and upskilling.
Apprentices are already seen as a tried and tested way of introducing new, talented individuals into a company, and according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) around a quarter of SMEs already employ an apprentice, a figure that’s growing year on year.
In April the Government is introducing the new Apprenticeship Levy which will require businesses with a wage bill of over £3m to pay 0.5% of their payroll as a levy to train and upskill their own staff and fund new apprentices.
Any unused money will be transferred into a central pot, which can be accessed by SMEs to fund apprentices and boost the skills of the region
This will mean that businesses with less than 50 employees, who take on an apprentice who is under 19 years old, will be able to claim 100% funding. SMEs with over 50 staff will need to meet 10% of the costs, while all SMEs placing a 16 -18 year old onto an apprenticeship can claim a £2,000 support payment.
In addition to the financial changes, there are several other significant alterations to the system.
- Apprentices can now be any age and still be considered for funding, and of the new apprentices taken on in 2016, over 500,000 apprentices were 25 years old or over
- There are no longer any restrictions on the previous level of education either, meaning that for the first time graduates can also become apprentices
- Apprenticeships are now much more flexible too and no longer tied to specific sectors either and are now available in over 170 different industries
- As well as filling vacancies businesses can now also tap into apprentice training and funding to upskill your existing staff
AGS is designed to manage the whole apprenticeship process for a business, breaking down traditional barriers to taking on apprentices, such as time and financial costs. AGS can advise on the type of apprenticeship training needed, source the best training provider and help put funding in place.
The popularity of apprentices is also continuing to grow among young people keen to avoid the spiralling costs of higher education. Many are now looking to earn and learn, with Higher level apprenticeships, as well as new Degree apprenticeships, becoming an increasingly attractive option.
Deirdre Hughes, Workforce Development Advisor at AGS, explains: “Apprenticeships have evolved, with the way in which they’re funded and delivered changing to reflect the needs and demands of modern business.
“We can help businesses to make the best use of the new levy to develop their staff and grow the company.”
Claire Tennant, Managing Director, MC2 adds: “Taking on and training an apprentice has brought huge benefits to our business. They’re a great way to ‘grow your own’ talent as they’re keen and eager to learn, and by growing with the business, they get to really understand its culture and values.
“Apprentices also bring in enthusiasm and new ideas and that can also have a dramatic and positive effect on the rest of the workforce.”