New Apprenticeship Levy funding rules approved

The Government has confirmed the rules for the proposed Apprenticeship Levy. While there have been some moves to address the concerns of nuclear employers such as extending the time for spending digital vouchers there are remaining issues over the lack of flexibility in allowable spending.

The Nuclear Skills Strategy Group of leading employers has issued a statement in response to the announcement. They have stated that, “The confirmation of these Apprenticeship levy funding rules shows that some of the concerns of the nuclear sector have been acknowledged. Employers will now have 24 months, instead of the previously proposed 18, to spend their digital vouchers, which is good news in a sector where high quality apprenticeships can span up to four years.”

“The Government has also recognised the significant costs of investing in STEM apprenticeships, announcing more funding for STEM apprenticeship frameworks and higher pricing of apprenticeship Standards to support improved quality. The NSSG agrees that the funding system should include support for the increased uptake of STEM apprenticeships that meet strategic (and national) needs in key occupations.”

“The Government has said it is committed to working with employers on developing a process whereby they can use the levy to pay for training in their supply chain. However, we remain concerned that this, as well as the ability to transfer funds to an Apprenticeship Training Agency, will not kick in until 2018. The ATA model in particular, is providing significant support to the delivery of high quality apprenticeships and we are keen to see this expedited.”

“The lack of flexibility in spending through the levy also remains a continued concern to nuclear companies. Longer term, nuclear employers would still like to see more flexibility to use levy funds on workforce training and CPD. A solution to this could be factored into the Government’s Industrial Strategy.”

The Government’s update includes:

  • 24 months for businesses to spend their Digital vouchers – instead of the original 18
  • More funding for STEM apprenticeship frameworks and higher pricing of apprenticeship standards to support improved quality, and providing greater flexibility to train those with prior qualifications.
  • A firm commitment to introducing the ability for employers to transfer digital funds to other employers in their supply chains, sector or to apprenticeship training agencies in 2018
  • More money for employers to train apprentices in the poorest parts of England
  • More money for employers who take on apprentices under 24 years old who are in care or who have special educational needs
  • Providers that train 16- to 18-year-olds on apprenticeship frameworks will be given an additional cash payment equal to 20% of the funding band maximum

Apprenticeships have long played a vital part in addressing the nuclear sector’s skills challenge. It is therefore no surprise that the commitment to more high quality apprenticeships has been welcomed by the nuclear industry. The levy will be introduced in six months time.