In a bid to create a wider number of opportunities for young people in the UK, in 2017 the government set a target for public sector bodies to employ 2.3% of new staff as apprentices between 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2021. This target is only applicable to those groups with over 250 staff in England, but states that those included should consider apprenticeships in all workforce planning decisions.

This target was developed to help increase the quantity and quality of apprenticeships in England. As the UK lags behind other developed countries in productivity, it has become clear that investing in training programmes and employment opportunities for young people is highly important.

Just like SMEs and large enterprises, the public sector is grappling with a skills gap. Apprenticeships provide the opportunity to bring in young talent, with different skills and knowledge to refresh and improve the level of ability within the workplace.

But what other benefits do apprenticeships provide to the public sector?

  • Young apprentices bring enthusiasm and fresh ideas
  • They contribute to increased diversity within a workforce
  • Apprenticeships offer the chance to upskill your existing workforce, allowing you to keep up with your fast-moving industry
  • Apprenticeships provide the opportunity to invest in a young person and shape them to excel within your company for many years to come
  • Apprentices are cost-effective with many forms of funding available when recruiting an apprentice
  • As an employer you can now choose the skills and knowledge delivered to your apprentice/s, tailoring the course to your specific organisation’s needs

With the recent redesign of apprenticeships, there are now many levels of qualifications to be received from apprenticeships. This means that employing apprentices does not lead to recruiting entirely under 18 year olds into your organisation.

The levels of apprenticeships available are as follows:

  • Intermediate, level 2 apprenticeships are equivalent to 5 GCSE passes, these will typically be made up of those who have just finished secondary education.
  • Advanced, level 3 apprenticeships provide a qualification equivalent to 2 A level passes. These apprenticeships will typically be suitable for those who didn’t want to go to sixth form following their GCSES.
  • Higher apprenticeships covering levels 4, 5, 6 and 7 provide the equivalent to a foundation degree and above. Although not limited to, these apprenticeships will usually be applicable to individuals who didn’t want to go to university following their A levels, or those who have completed an undergraduate degree and want to gain a further qualification such as a Master’s through an apprenticeship.

To make recruiting an apprentice easier for organisations, the government have many schemes and grants in place that help subsidise the cost of training. These include:

The Apprenticeship Levy

This is a scheme where companies who have a payroll of over £3 million, have to contribute 0.5% of their annual pay bill to the apprenticeship levy. From there each employer paying the levy will receive an allowance of £15,000 to counterbalance their payment. This money can then be put towards funding an apprenticeship, examples of which being used to pay for a training provider or an end point assessment.

National Insurance Savings

If you employ an apprentice under the age of 25 you will be exempt from paying class 1 National Insurance contributions. The only thing you need to qualify for this exemption is for your apprentice to be enrolled on an approved apprenticeship standard or framework.

Grants

The government are paying employers £2,000 for every apprentice recruited under the age of 25 and £1,500 for those who are 25 and over. This additional incentive is running from the 1st August 2020 till the 31st January 2021 on top of the existing £1,000 provided for employing an apprentice aged 16-18 or 19 – 25 with an Education, Health and Care plan.

To find out more about potential funding available to you, visit our dedicated page.