From education to employment

#Apprenticeships at the end of 2019: Competitions, Awards and Free online access for all…

Richard Marsh, Apprenticeship Partnership Director, Kaplan Financial


Like many thousands of people I recently attended (and thoroughly enjoyed) World skills Live 2019 at the NEC Birmingham.

Is there any finer sight in skills than the UK’s best trainees competing in front of such a large and excitable audience?

As well as speaking to thousands of potential apprentices about a career in Finance, we organised a competition to find Britain’s best young trainee Accountants.

Competition was friendly but fierce and on the day ‘team PWC’ narrowly triumphed over excellent teams from Deloitte, Grant Thornton and Swansea University. Many congratulations to all.

What stood out was the all-round ability of these young Apprentices, in particular their capacity for combining Technical knowledge with Communication skills. This is testament to their natural abilities and hard work; but also to the 360o nature of their training.

Apprenticeships are about developing all round skills and Apprenticeships produce all round excellence.

Inaugural Accounting World skills Live competition winners PWC (with Gavin from World skills!)

WorldSkills PWC

Apprenticeship Award winners

November also saw the 16th annual Apprenticeship awards with some new and interesting winners – many congratulations to all Apprenticeship Champions.

Amongst the usual high quality Engineering, Banking, Construction and Health entries, this year there was a notable increase in the number of Schools being considered for awards.

This is significant, not only as Schools are a major employer in themselves. But also because Schools’ lack of understanding and promotion of Apprenticeships is often cited as a core reason why Apprenticeships for School leavers have not increased over the past 10 years.

Hopefully more Schools will be inspired and begin to realise the benefits of Apprenticeships for both themselves and their pupils.

Online access for all employers

2020 will bring some ‘known’ Apprenticeship changes, such as the end of the older NVQ-based Apprenticeship ‘Frameworks’ in July. And the opening of the Digital Apprenticeship System to non-levy employers from January.

(It may well also bring in some ‘unknown unknowns’ – dependent upon the election result!)

So from January, employers with a pay bill of less than £3m per year will now be able to use the online Apprenticeship Service (sometimes called the ‘DAS’ or ‘TAS’ system) to organise and pay for their Apprenticeships.

Once employers set up an account they will gain access to a range of Digital services and will be able to:

  • Select a training provider (such as Kaplan…)
  • Advertise an Apprenticeship vacancy and recruit an Apprentice
  • Reserve Gov. funding for their Apprentice’s training (generally 95% of the costs)
  • Provide feedback on their training provider

[See below for more detail on how to set up an account]

Why is this significant?

As well as the practical benefits, listed above, there is a behavioural aspect to this change. It will mean that an employer is now really free to choose any approved training provider – not just one with a funding ‘allocation’.

What wider difference will this make?

  • It will increase choice for employers, as well as removing any unnecessary intermediaries
  • Smaller providers will be able to work directly with employers and not have to be ‘brokered’ or subcontracted by those with funding allocations
  • For training providers it ends the allocation game. As employers will now be able to dictate where their custom goes – rather than it being metered out by ESFA contract managers

What about potential negatives?

  • Some employers will not want to manage their own funding – it is an additional bureaucracy
  • Funding is open to all, but initially limited to 5,000 places per month. (Although the closure of Frameworks in July 2020 should free up a substantial amount more)

On balance I believe that it is something to be welcomed. And as one of the final elements of the current reform programme it will leave us with a clearer funding system moving forwards.

How to set up your account?

  • Firstly you will need to set up an Account on the online Apprenticeship Service and to do this will need to have a ‘Government gateway ID or an Accounts Office ID ‘
  • These are special passwords that HMRC issues when you register your business for online services.
  • If you would like support in setting up your account or for any further information please call the National Apprenticeship Service helpline 08000 150 600


Richard Marsh, Apprenticeship Partnership Director, Kaplan Financial

Richard Marsh Newsroom Strap

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