I last wrote about this topic in May 2016, when we were expecting further announcements the following month, but with Brexit; changes in ministers and even a change in the governmental departmental 'home' of apprenticeships, these announcements were delayed until 12 August 2016. However, there is an incomplete picture of how the system will work when it comes into force from April 2017, with the first apprenticeship deliveries under the levy system starting in May 2017.
Employers now have around nine months to plan how to adapt their systems to the new regime, which will be particularly challenging for those who will be required to pay the levy, ie, those organisations with an annual payroll bill of £3m. Some of the detail about how this will work has been made available, but further announcements are due later in the year - October and December - government announcement about the Apprenticeship Levy
In terms of who employers will contract with to deliver the apprenticeships, there are also some potential changes in the pipeline. A consultation underway to gather feedback on the proposal to set up a Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) – due to close on Monday 5 September 2016 (more information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/register-of-apprenticeship-training-providers). Though still at the proposal stage, it has been made clear that if it is implemented, the RoATP will be separate from the current Register of Training Organisations (RoTO), which is the register that employers currently use to select their provision. RoTO will still exist but will not be applicable to apprenticeships. Confusing!
Amongst the deluge of documents published on 12 August was one covering funding for apprenticeships. As with the current system funding bands have been proposed, which range from Band 1 where the funding upper limit is £1,500 to Band 15 where the upper band is £27,000 with a mid-range band at Band 7 set at £5,000.
What does this mean for the waste and recycling industry?
This is “to be advised”. There are currently no apprenticeship standards in place specifically relating to the waste and recycling sector so no announcement have been made about which funding band future standards will fall into.
For example, it is proposed that the Utilities Network Planning and Management Apprenticeship at Level 4, which has been developed for the water industry, will fall into Band 9 with an upper limited of £9000. Whereas, for comparison purposes a Facilities Management Apprenticeship at Level 4 will fall into Band 1 and attract just £1500. As it would be expected it is the so-called STEM sector (science, technology, engineering and maths) that will attract the higher levels of funding. For instance, a Level 3 Utilities Engineering Technician apprenticeship will fall into Band 15, with a premium of £27,000.
Initial plans are in place to bring together a consortium of key stakeholders in the waste and resources management sector to work together to develop a new apprenticeship standard for the industry. This is still in the very early stages and based on feedback from other sectors, a standard can take anywhere from six to nine months to develop.
In the meantime, the existing apprenticeship frameworks are still in place, at least until the end of March 2017. The guidance from government shows that apprentices who have been accepted on to an apprenticeship programme before 1 May 2017 will be funded for the full duration of the apprenticeship under the terms and conditions that were in place at the time the apprenticeship started. This will apply whether the apprentice is following the old system of apprenticeship frameworks or are enrolled on the new-style apprenticeship standard programme. The apprenticeship levy payments cannot be used to fund apprenticeships started before the 1 May 2017 cut off date.
Given that it is quite a complicated system, it is handy that an apprenticeship employer helpline has been set up providing telephone support 08000 150 600 and email support email@example.com
Watch out on the government website (www.gov.uk) for more announcements about final levels of funding, eligibility and guidance on how to pay the levy plus a range of other areas that will help us to make sense of the new system.
Remember these changes apply to apprenticeships in England – although all UK employers with a £3m plus payroll will pay the levy – so for guidance on apprenticeships in other parts of the UK, please contact the relevant apprenticeship authority:
Northern Ireland www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/apprenticeships