Apprenticeship Funding Reforms: A Step In The Wrong Direction?
A view from a young person, Alex Knight a Youth Ambassador
With youth unemployment at a five year low, with 868,000 young people unemployed, it appears that the government are trying to undo any progress they have made. Changes to the apprenticeship system are to be implemented in the coming months which could be seriously detrimental to young people’s chances of employment.
Let’s start with the current situation. In the UK, apprenticeships are mainly handled by training providers or colleges, who will work with an employer to find a suitable apprentice candidate. When they have found the candidate, the provider is then responsible for the administration and application for funding. Therefore, there isn’t too much of a burden either financially or bureaucratically for the employer.
This however, is all about to change, because the training provider will no longer have such a large role in proceedings, if any. Instead, the initial cost of putting an apprentice through a training programme will be borne completely by the employer. They then have to go through an online platform to recover the cost of the programme using a tax system.
Clearly, this is worrying, as small and medium sized businesses are going to be perturbed from taking on apprentices because they are unable to risk losing a substantial amount of money until they receive government funding. In turn, the cash flow issues that this could might seem to outweigh the benefits of having apprentices and so it is highly possible that the number of apprenticeship vacancies could fall drastically.
What the programme also forgets is that many small businesses don’t have the manpower to take the extra bureaucracy that applying for the tax rebate would take, as things like audits would become necessary, taking staff away from the everyday running of the business. The time that a firm would have to take to make sure they were finding quality training also has to be factored in, as the apprenticeship scheme would become a far bigger undertaking.
Put off yet?
You will be now.
If you’re a business, you already have enough organisations such as HM Revenue and Customs wanting to check how you are running things. But adding OFSTED to that list may be a step too far.
They would however, have to come and check the level of training under new guidelines, with the employer now responsible for the quality. Not only is it a further distraction that a company doesn’t need but it also has the potential to ruin their reputation as a business if the training isn’t rated to a high standard, again too much of a risk for many employers.
Thus, in my opinion, these new changes are very likely to lower the amount of apprenticeships on offer to young people. They will price small businesses out of the apprenticeship market and provide far too much extra work for many medium size firms. In turn, that leaves large employers, who actually only currently employ 10% of all apprentices. Therefore, 90% are left unaccounted for and without a clear role for training providers, who have been responsible for 80% of the programmes and an increase in their popularity, apprenticeships at a serious risk of decline.