Friday 28th April 2017

What Do The Apprenticeship Reforms Mean For Apprentices?

There have been many changes to the Apprenticeship sector so far this year and we want to ensure our 3aaa Apprentices understand the new Apprenticeship reforms and how the changes will effect them.

The Apprenticeship Levy

In simple terms, the Apprenticeship Levy is a tax on all UK employers that have a wage bill over £3 million. 0.5% of these organisations’ payroll will be deduced each month and the employers will report and pay their Levy contribution to HMRC through the PAYE process. The aim of this aspect of the Government’s Apprenticeship reforms is to create 3 million more Apprenticeships by 2020. This new tax means that the way these employers fund the training for their Apprentices will be done differently, if the Apprentice starts after 1st May 2017.

The tax that is paid by the employers will then go into their own digital account and this is where they can pay for their own Apprenticeship training and assessment. These funds can not be used to pay for an Apprentices wages, statutory licences to practise, travel and subsidiary costs or work placement programmes. The good news is that with the Apprenticeship Levy comes safer guidelines for Apprentices, such as “there must be a genuine job available for an Apprentice”. This means that a contract of employment, an Apprentice wage, job roles and support must all be provided by the employer.

The New Apprenticeship Standards

Another large change to the education sector is the switch from the current Apprenticeship Frameworks to the new Apprenticeship Standards. Frameworks were originally put in place to make sure Apprentices have guidelines throughout their Apprenticeship, meaning that they will become competent with the job that they are preparing for. The Frameworks were meant to set out the minimum requirements for the Apprenticeship but employers found that they did not meet their needs.

This is where the new Standards come in to play as they have been developed by employers, for employers. This means that the skills an Apprentice is taught will be more relevant to the role they are doing and the sector they are working in. The new Standards have been designed this way to help steer learners towards achieving the specific skills that the company they work for needs, meaning they will be a fully competent, confident and a productive employee. The Standards will replace all the existing Frameworks by 2020, creating higher quality training for Apprentices and happier employers.

3aaa Apprenticeships already have over 300 Apprentices on the new Standards and have been working with employers to advise them on what will work as an Apprenticeship programme. We have taken a leading role in the Digital and Accountancy Sectors, working with employers and professional bodies to get the Standards right. Although the new Standards cover very similar ground to the Frameworks, they are a lot more flexible in terms of how we can manage and deliver the Apprenticeship Programmes.

Benefits of the New Standards:

  • Gives employers control in designing Apprenticeships
  • Increases the flexibility of delivery
  • Simplifies the funding system
  • Increases the effectiveness of training for Apprentices

All in all, the new Apprenticeship Standards should bring a positive impact to businesses across the UK and provide Apprentices with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful within their chosen job role.

The New Apprenticeship Assessment Procedure

As part of the development of the new Apprenticeship Standards and Apprenticeship reforms, there is now a focus on how the assessment of an Apprentices development is done. Apprentices must do this assessment so that training providers can be sure that the knowledge, behaviour and skills they have learnt throughout the Apprenticeship Programme are enough for them to gain the qualification. Before the new Standards, the assessment was done throughout the Apprenticeship, by having progress reviews and work being marked throughout the course.

The procedure under the new Standards will move to a more holistic approach with an assessment at the end rather than throughout. This is called an end-point assessment (EPA) and each new Standard will set out how the end-point assessment will be delivered.

3aaa Apprenticeships have been very involved in developing these pilots and we already have Apprentices going through these new EPA’s, ready for the implementation of the Apprenticeship Levy. The end-point-assessments consist of different methods and can be different for each Standard.

The methods used in EPA are:

  • Examination testing
  • Projects
  • Interviews
  • Portfolios of evidence

What this new procedure means is that the emphasis has moved from continuous on-going assessments to an end assessment with all these different methods involved, so that there is more flexibility in how Apprentices are supported. An Apprentice could undertake a multiple-choice assignment, have an interview with an experienced professional, be observed or create a portfolio. Basically, the assessment that will be chosen will reflect the type of work that will happen in their real workplace. All end-point-assessments are graded and an Apprenticeship certificate is only awarded once this assessment has been successfully completed.

Overall Effect To Apprentices

Overall, the Governments plans for the Apprenticeship reforms are a huge benefit for the Apprenticeship industry. Not only do they mean more care and support is given to Apprentices throughout their Apprenticeship, but it also improves the quality of the programmes that we provide. The changes will ensure that people come out of their training completely confident that they are capable of doing job roles that they have prepared for and it also means that Apprentices will be graded, rather than a simple pass or fail.

The courses that are being created have more emphasis on developing an Apprentices’ career, rather than ticking a check list, making both the employer and the Apprentice comfortable with the end result. The Apprenticeship reforms also aim to promote the benefits of Apprenticeships to both employers and young people by creating more positive campaigns across the country and are set on making the programmes more responsive to employers needs.

If you’re considering becoming an Apprentice, we have hundreds of opportunities across the country waiting for you. We will support you at every stage of your Apprenticeship journey and ensure that you are matched to work with an organisation that fits your skills and interests. We also help all our Apprentices with CV writing, job interviews and confidence development. To start your career today, visit our Apprentice Career website where all our latest vacancies are available for you to apply for.

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