The reforms, currently being consulted upon jointly by the Government’s Department for Business Innovation & Skills and Department for Education, have proposed radical changes to the way Apprenticeships are paid for with three options being put forward.
Graham Razey, Principal of East Kent College, which last year placed nearly 300 Apprenticeships with local businesses, said: “We all recognise that skills are a vital part of a business’ ability to grow and nurture the talent of our young people. However, to place a greater burden on the employer in terms of the cost and time it takes to manage Apprenticeships could discourage many from offering them.
“Not only would this reduce access to much needed training for our young people it would importantly hold back our economic recovery.”
Geoff Miles, Chairman of Kent Economic Board, said: “For Apprenticeships to work they require the commitment of everybody concerned, the employer, the individual trainee and also the government.
“Kent remains a county of small businesses with more than 90 per cent employing less than 10 people, and many are already finding it difficult to cope under the burden of regulation. Kent has made such huge strides in terms of promoting Apprenticeships and it is therefore vital that we do everything we can to make them work for local firms and boost local skills. We have passed on our concerns to Government.”
The Government is asking business for their views on three options, with the first one proposing to channel the training funding via the employer. Payments would be made directly into a bank account, after the employer has found and commissioned the training provider. This would require the employer to pay the training provider from their own funds and then submit a monthly return of cost via an online portal to claim back the government contribution, up to a maximum of 70 per cent of the costs. It has been proposed that a percentage of the training costs would be paid to the employer when the apprentice has successfully completed the Apprenticeship.
Secondly, the option of channelling funding via the employer with payments being made via the PAYE system, rather than directly into the employer’s bank account, being proposed.
The third option proposes funding via a single training provider. Employers would pay an agreed contribution toward the training cost, with current figures suggesting this would be 30 per cent. Upon receipt of the employer’s contribution the training provider will then be able to claim the government contribution towards the training.