What's the deal on 'new' Apprenticeships?

Get your new Apprenticeship questions answered

1. What are ‘new’ Apprenticeships?

They're defined as a minimum 12 months of ‘quality employment’ combined with training and study – with at least 20% off-the-job learning.

2. When were these ‘new’ Apprenticeships launched?

A new standards-based approach was launched in 2013 – with funding and infrastructure proposals announced in 2015 and a start-date of April 2017.

3. What was the reason for launching these Apprenticeships when we already had longstanding apprenticeships and traineeships?

There was a policy shift to standards-based, job-specific Apprenticeships – with ‘Trailblazer’ new Apprenticeships being developed over the last couple of years. The Government highlighted the benefits of employers designing these ‘new’ Apprenticeships and said they expected that these Apprenticeships would help to improve productivity and employability. The Government’s proposals transferred many of the costs (standards development, course development and wages) to employers.

4. Who pays for these new Apprenticeships?

A new Apprenticeship Levy is being introduced in April 2017. The levy will be calculated as 0.5% of the paybill – although there’s a £15,000 offset so that only employers with a paybill of at least £3 million will actually incur a cost. The levy will fund ‘digital training vouchers’ for apprentices. Levy-paying employers will be allocated vouchers to fund apprenticeship training. Levy money cannot be used for wages, standards development, training materials or course content – employers are expected to cover these costs.

5. When do new Apprenticeships start?

New ‘Trailblazer’ Apprenticeship standards have already been developed. The Apprenticeship Levy is payable from April 2017, and digital training vouchers can be accessed from May 2017. Old apprenticeships will be being phased out by 2020.  

6. Are new Apprenticeships UK-wide?

The Apprenticeship Levy is payable UK-wide. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own approaches to Apprenticeship development and delivery, with their Administrations currently deciding how to use the new levy funding.

7.  How can someone enrol as a new Apprentice?

You can apply for an Apprenticeship with an employer, training provider, Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA) or, in England, via the Government’s ‘Find an Apprenticeship’ service (with a different process in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales – see above).

8. What’s an ‘Apprenticeship Training Agency’ or ATA? 

An Apprenticeship Training Agency or ATA is an ‘umbrella’ employer for a group of apprentices who work across various organisations. ATAs are ideal for project-based, freelance-dominated sectors with many SMEs (i.e. where there are limited opportunities for an apprentice to spend at least 12 months with one employer).  *However, employers can only transfer up to 10% of the annual value of funds entering their digital accounts to other employers or apprenticeship training agencies (ATA). 

9. Can employers who don’t pay the levy get help with employing an Apprentice? 

Employers with paybills under £3m are entitled to 90% of their Apprenticeship training costs paid. Businesses with under 50 employees can have all their training costs paid if the apprentice is aged 16-18, or is a care leaver aged 19-24, or is a 19-24 year old with a local authority education and healthcare plan. Employers and training providers each receive an additional £1k to support younger apprentices with additional learning needs.

10. What kinds of Creative Industry Apprenticeships will be available? 

Our industry’s employers have to decide which Apprenticeships they need to fill skills gaps. There has to be enough demand for each Apprenticeship (originally proposed as a minimum of around 50 apprentices a year – but there could be scope for a lower threshold where vital skills gaps can be demonstrated). Employers also have to commit to working in groups, leading on the design and development of their sector’s Apprenticeship standards and assessment plans.  

11. What happens when an apprentice completes a new Apprenticeship?

An apprentice is assessed against the employer-designed standard and assessment plan. If the apprentice’s work experience and training have been successful they get a certificate to show they’re competent in the role.

12. How do new Apprenticeships fit with vocational training and degrees?

Apprenticeships can be a work-based alternative to FE courses. They will be offered from Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) to Level 7 (degree-level).

13. Are there any concerns about these new Apprenticeships?

Many employers are only just finding out about the new Apprenticeship proposals and there are concerns over funding, standards and timing. A longer transition phase has been recommended, beyond the current Spring 2017 launch date, to allow time for a more flexible approach to be developed and tested. There is a concern among Creative Industry employers that many organisations have neither the resources nor the expertise to contribute to and manage standards development, which may lead to gaps in Apprenticeship provision. The Creative Industries have been lobbying for the opportunity to ‘pool’ digital training vouchers in order to get best value back from apprenticeship investment. This will allow:

  • Freelance employees to access vouchers held by the productions on which they are working
  • ATA’s to co-ordinate training for apprentices who are placed with several employers across their apprenticeship

Read more about the Apprenticeship funding and how it will work here


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