A few days ago on 26th July, this written question from an MP in Woking called Jonathan Lord was answered by Gillian Keegan who is the MP for Chichester. Whilst all of the words were very good, the challenge is that there are other issues that need to be resolved if apprenticeships are to be made effective for Small and Micro Businesses that are not working in the same sector and on the same theme as Large and Medium Size Businesses. There is of course a wide range of apprenticeship provision in our nation but unfortunately the training provision that comes from Colleges and Universities is very broad and focused on large sectors. I work for a Company that fits Audio Visual equipment into a wide range of settings including Schools, Colleges, NHS, Police, Councils, and even the Government along with Churches and Residential settings. To meaningfully train people for the sort of work we do, we need to be able to take some training from Electrical installation, IT and Building skills and then we have to add the knowledge that comes from our industry. Sadly however the training schemes in the UK are not currently available in a modular sense and that is a challenge that our industry and a myriad of other industries find very frustrating. The prospect of taking on an electrical apprenticeship and then trying to add in IT and Building elements before we then begin to train people for the details that we are delivering to peoples homes and a range of other settings makes the concept of apprenticeships very hard to deal with. This is where the Government needs to listen, because the educational settings are already fully aware of the issues but they cannot change their actions without a change from the Government, they have tried to do so in the past and it produces major problems because of the way that they are instructed by the Government.
Here is the Question and Answer and sadly the answer did not respond to the issue that we have been trying to communicate for years with no positive response so far. Perhaps Jonathan could ask a more direct question?
Jonathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to encourage employers to take on more apprentices.
Gillian: In the 2021-22 financial year, funding available for investment in apprenticeships in England will remain around £2.5 billion – double that spent in 2010-11 financial year, supporting employers of all sizes to offer apprenticeships.
We are supporting employers to offer new apprenticeship opportunities by offering a higher incentive payment of £3,000 for every new apprentice hired between 1 April and 30 September 2021 as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs. We have seen over 71,000 incentive payments claimed by employers so far (as of 8 June).
We continue to improve apprenticeships by making them more flexible and making it easier for employers to make full use of their levy funds. We are developing and encouraging innovative apprenticeships training models, such as the front-loading of off-the-job training and accelerated apprenticeships. These models support apprentices to be effective in their role and accelerate their progression and completion. We will also shortly launch a £7 million fund to help employers set up and expand flexi-job apprenticeship schemes, enabling people to work across multiple projects with different employers and benefit from the high-quality long-term training that an apprenticeship provides.
Levy-paying employers can already transfer up to 25% of their annual funds to support apprenticeships in their supply chains or to meet local skills needs. In August 2021, we will make the transfer of levy funds to small and medium-sized enterprises easier by launching an online matching service, whereby levy payers will be able to pledge funds for transfer and create more apprenticeship opportunities in their supply chain, sector or region.