National Apprenticeship Week – a look back | Part 1

Posted on: 2016-03-23

Last week (14 – 18 March 2016), National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) took place and saw the industry launch several key events, presentations and announcements surrounding apprenticeships in the UK.

We too are proud to have released the news of our collaboration with the Chartered Surveyors Training Trust (CSTT) in developing and delivering Surveying Technician and Chartered Surveyor apprenticeship programmes. The news went live on Monday 16 March and you can find out more by clicking here.

It was a hugely active week in which we also shared two fantastic success stories of apprentices currently studying with us, whilst working at CBRE – the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm. You can find out more on these two stories by clicking here.

The focus during NAW across the industry was the 2016 Budget and Apprenticeship Levy, which was the focus of industry events across the week. One of these industry events was the FE Week Annual Apprenticeship Conference & Exhibition 2016 (AAC), which took place between 16 – 18 March.

FE Week Annual Apprenticeship Conference & Exhibition (AAC)

AAC was the flagship Apprenticeship Conference of NAW and our very own John Pratt, Product Development Manager – Apprenticeships, was in attendance. The conference offered a mixture of keynote speeches from Government Ministers and Shadow Cabinet members, workshops from assessment bodies and Trailblazer groups, to in-depth practical sessions with Nick Linford, author of the Complete Guide to Funding Apprenticeships, and other technical specialists.

John Pratt gives us a top-level wrap up of his experience and findings at this flagship event:

AAC Day 1

The focus for Day 1 was the Budget 2016, the Apprenticeship Levy, funding and the Digital Apprenticeship Service:

  • Nick Linford opened the conference with the news that in the 2016 Budget George Osborne announced that from April 2017, employers in England will receive a free 10 per cent top-up to their monthly Levy contributions in England. This is the Government’s method of enabling employers in England, who pay the levy and are committed to apprenticeship training, to be able to get out more than they pay into the levy 

Apprenticeship text

  • Nick also advised that the Skills Funding Agency had confirmed that it would fully fund all high-quality 16 to 18 apprenticeship and SFA-funded 16 to 18 traineeship delivery from August 2015 to March 2016. This decision had been long overdue and was welcomed by those involved in apprenticeship delivery
  • David Hill (Director of Apprenticeships at BIS) provided an overview of current policy and developments:
    • The Government has set a target of 3m apprenticeship starts by 2020. To hit this target the equivalent of one new apprenticeship start every minute is needed over the next 5 years
    • The number of higher apprenticeship starts more than doubled in 2015
    • The Government is keen to extend the range of degree apprenticeships on offer
    • The Government will be launching a new apprenticeships marketing campaign in May 2016, this will replace the current Get In. Go Far campaign
    • The Prime Minister has set a target to increase the number of Black and minority ethnic apprentices by 20 per cent
    • The Public sector apprenticeships targets will lead to a substantial increase in public sector apprenticeships – the NHS will need to start at least 100,000 apprentices per year and Department of Transport will need to start circa. 30,000 apprentices per year
    • The Government will publish a ‘Guide for Employers’ in April 2016 setting out the operating principles of the Apprenticeship Levy
    • Draft funding rates for apprenticeships will be released in June and confirmed in the autumn
  • Keith Smith, Director of Funding and Programmes at the SFA and Director of Levy Implementation at BIS provided an overview of how the levy will work and an insight to the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS). The DAS will launch with core functions in April 2017 and be developed on an ongoing basis throughout 2017. Click here to view Keith’s slides.

 NAW wrap up image

Keith confirmed that all employers in England will be able to access apprenticeship funding but added that the details of how non-levy paying employers will access funding are still being decided and will be given in the ‘Guide for Employers’ that will be issued in April.

Keith also announced that a consultation will take place over the summer to determine what the criteria will be for training providers delivering apprenticeships to be listed as a ‘registered’ or ‘approved’ training organisation. 

For many of the delegates, during Day 1 of the event it was hoped that detail on the operating principles of the levy would be released; however, as the day progressed it became clear that the only limited additional detail was available and that the finer details won’t be released until April 2016.

Find out more from day 2 onwards in Part 2.