Government to incentivise apprenticeships for business owners – an update from our Managing Director Derrin Kent:

An Government incentivises apprenticeships for employersApprenticeship is a career for life, not just a job for Christmas – TDM’s response to the Chancellor’s 8th July 2020 statement

The Development Manager (TDM) welcomes Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s “plan for jobs” to tackle unemployment post COVID-19.

Sunak said: “I believe in the nobility of work, I believe in the inspiring power of opportunity,  I believe in the British people’s fortitude and endurance. And, it is that value, “endurance”, that we need to embody now.

We completely agree! However, has the Chancellor risked our ability to achieve these ideals, perhaps inadvertently, by over-emphasising job-opportunities over career-building opportunities?

Genuinely work-based learning, when underpinned with academic rigour, is clearly an effective strategy for developing employable knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours. “Careers with plans”, not “a plan for jobs” are needed if the UK is really going to tackle this unemployment crisis and the national productivity gap moving into the future.

 These, then, are TDM’s first, immediate reactions to the new funding boosts & policies for apprentices and skills:

Cash incentives for employers to hire new apprentices

The “brand new bonus” for employers to hire apprentices from August 2020 to January 2021 is welcome. Employers will receive:

  • £3,000 for hiring a new apprentice aged 16 to 18 (a £2,000 increase on the £1,000 available currently)
  • £2,000 for hiring a new apprentice aged 19 to 24
  • £1,500 for hiring a new apprentice aged 25 and over

For the most part, this new bonus will cover, with change left over, the 5% employer contribution fees that SMEs pay for accessing the apprenticeship levy.   

TDM believes that Apprenticeships and Degree Apprenticeships are the most important educational programmes available in the UK for developing the “fortitude and endurance” that is needed to drive Britain’s Skills Development forwards and for addressing our Productivity gap. The Government could have spent much harder on this agenda, offering a much more significant Year 1 salary-support package for employers, further mitigating employer risk against taking on new, inexperienced recruits during a viral pandemic. 

£2bn ‘kickstart’ programme

Employers will be able to draw down a grant for six-month work placements aimed at those aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment. Some apprenticeships providers feel this is a threat to apprenticeships, fearing a potentially devastating effect on training providers who will lose their opportunity to apprentice people. This is because employers will choose a cost-free, short-term employee (with no coaching and training) over a low-waged, long-term apprentice on an ambitious learning plan.

 Whilst we at TDM recognise the worries of our colleague training providers, we believe that our employer partners do understand the value of our long-term coaching and training for their apprentices. Furthermore, employers who work with TDM, want to invest their supportive and formative mentoring time into developing up and keeping on an employed apprentice, rather than investing their time, hopes and energies into a short-stay, cost-free work-placement. Why? Because they believe in the nobility of work, the inspiring power of opportunity and in the British people’s fortitude and endurance. The short term placement with no learning plan is, bluntly, going to be too often treated as an extra pair of very disposable hands.

This scheme is great, though, for the UK if it is delivered as a generous act of corporate social responsibility by an employer, for those who are furthest from being employable. It can serve as a confidence-building strategy for those who lack confidence in themselves as workers. Funding will cover 100 per cent of the relevant national minimum wage by age group, for a minimum of 25 hours a week for 6 months, so long as the jobs are “new”. For a 24 year-old, the grant will be around £6,500.

£111m boost for Traineeships

The really good news here is that TDM could now become funded to help our employers to offer a work trial for a “Trainee” who holds Level 3 (e.g. A-Level) qualifications. We will look into this for the benefit of our employer partners. Previously, the programme was constrained to people who had Level 2 only qualifications (e.g. GCSEs). Some employers may like to trial multiple 6th Form or FE College leavers on a “Traineeship” opportunity in order that they can prove themselves for apprenticeship opportunities. The risk to the employer, of course, is that the “better” prospects (and their parents and guardians) will be much more attracted to the longer-term commitment that employers formally agree to on their apprenticeship programmes. Bigger offers attract better talent, but shorter commitments mean lower risk. A £1,000 bonus will be limited to 10 trainees per employer. Watch this space because TDM is going to ask the ESFA to fund us to deliver as an option for our employer partners.

Tripling of sector-based work academies

Sector-based work academies are run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and typically last for up to six weeks, so there is not much demand on the endurance and fortitude of participants. The spirit of these academies however is provision of pre-employment training, a work experience placement and a “guaranteed” job interview.  TDM are willing to look into accessing DWP support for this, as an alternative to a longer Traineeship, for any of our employer partners who want a clearly defined, short-term, pre-skilling programme for real jobs that they can guarantee are becoming available.  

£101m for school and college leavers to return for a third year

At TDM, we believe that people learn vocational skills best when they are fully immersed in genuinely work-based learning, underpinned by academic rigour. That is why we deliver the work-based coaching model that we are so proud of. This new offer is great as a backup for people who cannot get an employer to give them a career-break an educational option. But, TDM wants the most promising people to win a genuine career break as soon as possible, applying genuine work-based learning to everyday working practice.