In early March, chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered a spring budget that placed a renewed focus on apprenticeships, FE, and skills development.
Key points included a doubling of incentive payments for employers and the announced introduction of “flexi-job” apprenticeships.
- Cash incentives will go up to £3,000 for employers who take on an apprentice
- £7 million fund to introduce “flexi-job” apprenticeships from January 2022
- Investment of £126m to create 40,000 more traineeships
Cash Incentives Raised to £3,000
In August, the chancellor introduced cash incentives to encourage employers to hire apprentices. These incentives were due to end this month.
However, Sunak has extended the scheme a further six months to September and raised the value of incentives on offer.
Any employer who hires a new apprentice between 1st April and 30th September 2021 will receive £3,000 per hire. Unlike the current incentives, the apprentice’s age will not affect the amount.
This amount is in addition to a £1,000 payment provided for new apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan.
This means that some employers could receive £4,000 for taking on an apprentice.
Plan for “Flexi-Job” Apprenticeship Scheme
Sunak announced that the government will introduce a £7 million fund to “help employers in England set up and expand portable apprenticeships”.
Employers will be able to bid for money from the fund from July 2021.
“Flexi-job” apprenticeships, starting in January 2022, will allow apprentices to link their training to an agency rather than a single employer. They will then be able to work for different employers in the same sector whilst completing their training.
‘Portable’ apprenticeships already exist in the construction sector. The budget document outlines that an expansion of this approach will enable people in contract-based sectors (such as the TV and film industries) to “benefit from the high quality long-term training that an apprenticeship provides”.
£126m Investment for Traineeships
The government will invest £126 million in England for “high quality” work placements and training for 16- to 24-year-olds. It is hoped that this investment will attract a further 40,000 traineeship starts over the 2021/22 academic year.
Traineeships are unpaid roles that aim to get people into their first job after education. They can last from six weeks to six months.
Instructus Group CEO Andrew Hammond said “It’s great to see an increase in the incentives for new apprenticeships revealed in the spring budget. The scheme looks to be simplified and runs to September, which I hope will encourage employers to put apprenticeships at the heart of their plans.”
“I believe that now is the best time to start building the skills for the future as we look forward to economic growth.”