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1ST MAR 2024

Changes to Apprenticeship Funding

Employer Training and Apprenticeships
Changes to Apprenticeship Funding
Changes to Apprenticeship Funding

The 2023-2024 rule book now brings together the rules and responsibilities of training provider and employers into a single document. Find out the key apprenticeship funding changes here.

What are the Apprenticeship Funding rule changes

  • Beginning  Monday 1 April 2024, the government has unveiled plans to fully fund apprenticeships for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), aiming to make these valuable opportunities more accessible. This initiative involves covering the entire training costs for apprentices up to the age of 21, thereby easing financial burdens on businesses and expanding career prospects for young individuals.

  • Levy paying employers will now be able to transfer up to 50% of their funds to support other businesses, including smaller enterprises, in taking on apprentices. This move is set to lower costs for SMEs, making it easier for them to engage in apprenticeship programs and address their skills needs. The implementation of this transfer increase is anticipated to come into affect on 6 April 2024, opening up myriad opportunities for young people across various sectors and professions.

  • A key change for the new academic year is that some active learning (off-the-job training or English/maths training) must take place in every calendar month of the practical period, as opposed to every 28 days. On paper this may appear a subtle change, but it will have a big impact as it stretches the period between active learning to a 7-8 week maximum period and could see the total number of interactions required reduced over a full year from at least 13 to 12. Greater flexibility around active learning has been a key theme to reduce time consuming and costly replanning activity, allowing flexibility for apprentices in sectors such as hospitality and retail navigate busy periods such as Christmas and allow providers to concentrate on delivering high quality training and less paper chasing.
  • Providers must use a break in learning (BIL) where there is no plan for any active learning (either off-the-job training or English/maths training) to occur every calendar month of the practical period. With the move from 28 days to calendar months there this will hopefully lead to fewer, less arbitrary BILs – which can only be a good thing, again less of a paperchase and apprentices placed on a BIL are at greater risk of not completing and being withdrawn.
  • From next year progress reviews will now take place at least four times each year. The expectation is that they must be carried out at least every 12 weeks – but there will now be flexibility where this is an evidenced delivery reason (such as module length) to adopt an alternative frequency. Alternative frequencies must be agreed upon with the employer, but this change allows progress reviews to fit around training as opposed to be fixed at set points, which in some cases are counterproductive and arbitrary.
  • The training plan must be agreed upon before any training is delivered (this agreement can be virtual), with a fully signed version of the plan being in place by the end of the 42-day ‘qualifying day’ period. In essence, this allows for a more extended period to get the training plan signed-off by the employer, reduces the pressure on onboarding, and the flexibility around the virtual aspect is positive here too as providers and employers are encouraged to be able to use different methods and tools.
  • If the employer is unable to attend the Initial Assessment discussion, the provider must give them the opportunity to contribute. They must also send them the relevant information after the meeting, for review and signature. This is added to support occasions where the employer is not able to attend a meeting with the provider and individual, but noting this shouldn’t be the default position.
  • Positively, we will also see an increasing in the apprenticeships care leavers’ bursary to £3,000, for new starts from August 2023. This aligns with the previously announced NAW policy, and the payment will be made in three instalments.

Any feedback on these rules can be made by email to the DfE at fundingrules.comments@education.gov.uk by Friday 28 April 2023.

Ultimately, the goal of simplification is to improve take up of apprenticeships. The funding rules are, of course, only one factor in determining how many people take on an apprenticeship but it is an important one.  It has been a positive step forward, nevertheless this isn’t the end of this project and further work is underway by DfE to implement in future editions of the rules too.

To find out how our apprenticeships can support learning & development needs of your organisation, email employer.training@gloscol.ac.uk or call 0345 1552020

Adapted from: https://www.fenews.co.uk/exclusive/last-weeks-funding-rules-announcement-shows-collaboration-is-starting-to-pay-off/