By Marcus Leach
Skills Minister John Hayes today (Tuesday) announced a package of new measures to make it easier for employers to take on large numbers of apprentices.
Responding to the recommendations of a review led by the Employer Reference Group, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and large companies, including BT and TUI Travel, Mr Hayes said that firms that contract directly with the Government to train apprentices will now benefit from simplified payment, reporting and assessment requirements.
They will also receive better guidance to help them manage the recruitment, training and assessment of apprentices more efficiently and cost effectively.
“Apprenticeships are proving an increasingly effective training route for young people and companies," Business Secretary Vince Cable said.
"They are a proven way to fill skills gaps in our economy. That’s why we are boosting the number of apprenticeships and putting them at the heart of our Skills for Growth strategy.
“But for far too long too many businesses have been put off by overly complex procedures and unnecessary layers of paperwork. We’ve worked with business to cut bureaucracy and ensure the benefits for employers, learners and the economy are maximised”.
Announcing the measures at a summit hosted by the CBI today, Mr Hayes said he believes the slashing of red tape will encourage employers to take on apprentices.
“I’m determined that more employers and learners than ever should have the opportunity to benefit from our unprecedented investment in apprenticeships," he said.
"Where red tape and bureaucracy deters employers from taking on apprentices, we’ll sweep it away.
“That will give more firms access to the skills they need to thrive, creating new jobs and new growth, and it will give many more individuals better prospects and the chance to gain a real stake in society.”
Key aspects of the action plan for cutting red tape for employers include:
- A pilot for over 20 large employers who have volunteered to trial “payment by outcomes” which will eliminate a number of data returns and audit requirements.
- Providing an online plain-English toolkit for employers that clearly explains the end-to-end processes employers need to undertake for apprenticeships.
- Streamlining contracting arrangements.
- A commitment to no “in year” changes to contracting arrangements.
- A more proportionate approach to audit and inspection - reducing preparation time for employers.
- Greater use of electronic information, thus reducing paperwork.
A more streamlined certification process.
“We welcome today’s report and the Government’s commitment to expanding apprenticeship schemes. Apprenticeships are vital to developing the skills that support economic growth and many employers already deliver excellent programmes," Susan Anderson, CBI Director for Education & Skills policy, said.
“Cutting bureaucracy will support even more businesses to become involved and these recommendations set out the right path for reform. They recognise that employers are primarily concerned with the day-to-day running of their businesses, and that they are committed to offering high quality training as their reputation and business success depends on this. We will work with government to take these plans forward”.
The Government has put the expansion of a high-quality, employer-led apprenticeships programme at the heart of a reformed skills system.
This year’s budget included an additional £150m to deliver 50,000 additional apprenticeships, and in July the Prime Minister announced details of a new Higher Apprenticeships Fund to help key industries including advanced manufacturing and engineering develop the advanced skills needed to drive growth and create an ownership society.
Further measures to cut red tape for small and medium sized employers taking on apprentices will be unveiled this autumn as part of the Government's plan for growth.
Join us on