It’s fair to say that the new apprenticeship programmes, supported by the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, haven’t been without controversy – with, initially, low take up and then recent warnings of over-spending in the levy budget.
As we gaze into our crystal ball for 2019, we see apprenticeships becoming an increasing popular route. They provide learners with real-life work experience, confidence, and skills, which will set them up in good stead for their careers – particularly in the finance sector.
The higher and degree-level apprenticeship schemes we’re working on offer real access to those who may not have been able to consider a university route.
Government reforms have put employers at the centre of today’s apprenticeship model, and we’re seeing more and more employers in the finance sector starting to take advantage of the flexibility that apprenticeships provide.
The apprenticeship levy is evolving too, supporting the UK’s growth of high-quality apprenticeships. From next April, levy-paying organisations will be able to transfer up to 25 percent of their levy funds to smaller companies within their supply chain. So the levy should really help employers plug the skills gaps.
Also, The Institute for Apprenticeships’ “Faster and Better” programme, is making the development and approval of new apprenticeships faster and more efficient.
So while university degrees still remain a vital educational route to success for some, they are no longer the only way to pursue a dream career. More and more young people are considering a higher level apprenticeship route.
So what are the challenges for 2019?
If and when Brexit does happen the re-adjustment of banking and finance in the UK may have an impact on apprenticeships. But, on the plus side, there will be an even greater need to increase diversity in the UK workforce and in the skills base.
Another issue may be the decrease in apprenticeship training providers as new rules recently introduced by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) further tighten up the system. Also, the on-going reduction of apprenticeship funding caps makes the delivery of higher level apprenticeships, in particular, more challenging.
We’re continuing our work to develop degree-level and higher apprenticeship programmes in collaboration with major employers in the financial sector. Our strong connections to the financial industry are helping us deliver apprenticeship programmes and training which are highly effective, industry relevant and open to all.
The Office for Students has highlighted the value of higher level apprenticeships, and the issue of under-represented students in Higher Education. Apprenticeships should be all about opening doors to individuals who may not otherwise be given the opportunity. For many new entrants to the sector apprenticeships provide the best of both worlds through a combined academic and vocational route.
Is the future for apprenticeships bright? We think so.
Hema Tank, Associate Dean at The London Institute of Banking & Finance
Copyright © 2019 FE News
About the author: Hema Tank is Associate Dean at The London Institute of Banking & Finance, a registered charity and leading provider of financial education. It’s a specialist university college providing undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and degree-level apprenticeships in banking and finance; a registered apprenticeship training provider at Levels 6 and 7; and an awarding body for professional qualifications in the sector.