Our thoughts on why apprenticeship numbers fell after the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.
It seems that every time the word "apprenticeship" is mentioned, so is a statistic from last year showing that apprenticeship numbers fell despite the introduction of a levy meant to encourage employers to increase them.
Happily, the Institute of Student Employers (the ISE) has just released new data that shows, ‘’in 2016 the number of apprenticeships increased by 13% and they rose by 19% in 2017. Compared to last year, employers are expecting to offer 1,501 more apprenticeships – a growth rate of 32%.’’
To our minds there are several reasons as to why the number of apprenticeships reportedly fell after the levy was introduced and these are:
- A lack of understanding about the new schemes and the options that are open to students. Careers departments are usually the least funded area in any school and up to date information may not be easy to find in the storeroom cupboard. As schools and parents begin to understand and see the benefits a vocational training programme can offer, or indeed a fully funded degree if a student is planning to take on a level 5/6 apprenticeship scheme, we believe the apprenticeship programmes will begin to flourish. Demand will encourage employers to increase the number of apprenticeships they offer.
- Many employers have been wary and initially nervous about the programme and so decided not to offer the programme to external applicants or students but have rolled it out internally. Loyal, trustworthy staff are being offered an opportunity to up-skill courtesy of their companies levy fund. As companies become comfortable with the scheme and run out of employes to upskill, we suspect they will be happier to introduce more places to students.
- Many businesses are planning to run more apprenticeships but have had to seriously re-organise their infrastructure to cope with the requirements and demands associated with a high calibre training scheme. The GSGC are delighted about this as no one wants a student being trained badly or their welfare being disregarded.
- Staff who are supporting the students need to be trained, e.g. if any student is under 17, safeguarding issues need to be addressed. Tutors and mentors need to be found and timetabling, to allow for off-site learning which in some cases can account for up to 20% of the training programme, accommodated by the rest of the company.
- The actual process to create a worthwhile programme is lengthy. Any employer who wants an apprenticeship scheme has to find suitable partners to accredit their programmes. Irritatingly the announcement and release of Registered Apprenticeship providers (RoAP) was delayed making it difficult for businesses to run the scheme as quickly as they had hoped.
- It can take up to a minimum of 6 months to create a scheme, find a university partner for accreditation, locate a suitable assessment centre and open up and release information about the scheme for applications.
- Each apprenticeship scheme is based on what is known as a Standard. These are the training programme requirements to which all apprenticeship schemes have to adhere. These are devised by a minimum of twelve companies (known as trailblazers) who all work in the same field and want to create an apprenticeship training programme that can be run by each of them. Conforming to a standard ensures the skills and training an apprentice learns are transferable. Sadly, there are still only a limited number of standards on offer.
- Any programme that was on offer before last summer would have closed before the 2017 cohort of students left school. The students and their teaching staff were probably not aware of the opportunities they could apply for as information was and is still limited. It is also generally, very difficult to find on company websites or the government 'Find An Apprenticeship' page.