With increasing emphasis on progression to advanced and higher level vocational qualifications, the government is creating the biggest Apprenticeship programme in the UK’s history.
However, many businesses have been put off by excessively complex procedures and unnecessary layers of paperwork involved in these programmes.
Skills Minister John Hayes today announced a package of new measures, at a summit hosted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), to simplify the Apprenticeship system for large employers.
“The firms that contract directly with the government to train apprentices will now benefit from simplified payment, reporting and assessment requirements,” said Hayes.
“The companies would also receive better guidance to help them manage the recruitment, training and assessment of apprentices more efficiently and cost effectively.”
This year’s budget includes an additional £150m to deliver 50,000 additional Apprenticeships.
Hayes added: “Where red tape and bureaucracy deters employers from taking on apprentices, we’ll sweep it away, giving many more individuals better prospects and the chance to gain a real stake in society.”
Key aspects of the action plan for cutting red tape for employers include:
• A pilot for over 20 large employers that have volunteered to trial “payment by outcomes”, which will eliminate a number of data returns and audit requirements.
• Providing an online plain-English toolkit for employers that clearly explain the end-to-end processes employers need to undertake for apprenticeships.
• Streamlining contracting arrangements.
• A commitment to no “in year” changes to contracting arrangements.
• A more proportionate approach to audit and inspection, thus reducing preparation time for employers.
• Greater use of electronic information, thus reducing paperwork.
• A more streamlined certification process.
Responding to the measures put forward by the government, the CBI’s director for education and skills policy, Susan Anderson, said: “These recommendations set out the right path for reform, cutting bureaucracy will support more businesses to become involved.”
Anderson also added that these reforms should now be applied to smaller and medium-sized companies, and the providers they work with, as SMEs represent a significant market for Apprenticeships.