Lancashire’s Apprenticeship offer and how employers can benefit

Major apprenticeship reforms were implemented on 1st May 2017, presenting employers across Lancashire with a gamut of fresh and innovative ways of training and upskilling their workforce.

Lancashire Work-Based Learning Executive Forum is made up of training providers and colleges across the county. Its message to all Lancashire employers is: Welcome to this brave new world – we are ready and waiting to help you.

Lancashire Forum will be working in partnership with the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub to support the growth of apprenticeships in Lancashire, supporting the Lancashire Apprenticeship Growth plan to make this happen.

We are in the midst of changing times for employers and apprenticeships in Lancashire, and collectively we want to support employers in creating the workforce they need.  Through our members we want to enable employers to recruit, upskill and provide quality training for Lancashire residents with Lancashire employers.

More than 10,000 businesses in the county benefit from offering Apprenticeships, research shows work-based learning boosts productivity, improves business performance and delivers a committed and competent workforce.

Employers operating Apprenticeship programmes also enjoy many additional benefits in relation to recruiting new apprentices and upskilling their current workforce:

  • Recruiting apprentices enables employers to fill skills gaps in their workforce as apprentices learn sector specific skills. This learning process starts on ‘day one’ and allows apprentices to develop specialist knowledge that enables employers to improve their bottom line performance.
  • There are also major benefits for existing staff. Employers are increasingly using Apprenticeship programmes to support staff development for their current workforce.

Lancashire Forum and its members, providers and colleges are dedicated to enabling employers to make the most of recruiting and training apprentices in a number of ways.

Whether employers are looking to recruit new staff or upskill their existing workforce, help is readily available. By using Lancashire training providers and colleges, employers will receive sector updates, shared practice and development news.

The role of Lancashire Forum members in supporting employers

Lancashire Forum members can provide advice and guidance on all aspects of employing apprentices. Whether you’re taking on an apprentice for the first time or developing internal strategies to maximise your return on investment, our members can tailor their services to your specific needs.

Lancashire Forum members help employers to understand everything relating to Apprenticeships and the changes.

The new funding structure and payment schedules affect all employers and are technically complex. However, Lancashire Forum members can help employers to understand and handle these challenges. Employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3m will pay the Apprenticeship levy and can use these funds to pay for training. For other employers and those who have used all their levy funds, funding and payment depends on the age of the apprentice. In some cases training is free, but in others the employer must contribute 10% of the cost.

Small and medium employers will be able to access Government ‘co-investment’ funding.  This means the Government will pay 90% of the cost of Apprenticeship training and they will only pay the remaining 10%; regardless of the age of the Apprentice.  In addition, employers will receive a £1,000 incentive payment for each apprentice you employ who is aged 16-18.

Lancashire Forum members will also explain to employers in plain English how the standards work on the ground. How the programme will be delivered is another important area that employers will need advice on. Once an Apprentice is recruited, training providers and colleges can agree with the employer on the best delivery programme, including all on and off the job training. The reforms have changed how training is delivered and Forum members offer help and support with the design and delivery of an Apprenticeship programme that best suits individual employers. Members also advise on how Apprentices will be assessed at the end of their training.

Clearly employers must keep a sharp focus on running a profitable business and Forum members recognise that planning and arranging training must be managed on top of business and operational commitments. Employers will be provided with a named training manager who delivers flexible support for employers’ Apprenticeship training, from start to finish.

This includes help with tackling: skills shortages; succession planning; design of a company’s Apprenticeship programme; and improvements to bottom line performance.  Provider and college staff will also help with supporting the individual to their new role and the achievement of their Apprenticeship, especially those who are younger and maybe new to the world of work.

Recruitment can be very challenging for employers. They must not only find the right person, but also the time to interview and select. Local training providers and colleges can assist employers with the recruitment process as they have a bank of applicants looking for Apprenticeship vacancies. The training provider or college can advise on initial selection and can carry out shortlisting to enable the employer to make their final selection quickly and cost-effectively.

For details of how to set up your DAS account follow the link below.

If your organisation, including any connected companies or charities, has an annual pay bill of more than £3 million you will pay the apprenticeship levy. If you pay the levy and want to employ an apprentice you’ll need to:

  • create an account
  • add organisations
  • link your PAYE schemes
  • invite members of your team to use the service

If you’re not a levy payer, you can’t access any funds through this service.

Click here to contact the Forum for independent, impartial advice.