Apprenticeship schemes are intended to give individuals the opportunity to combine classroom learning with a job that allows them to put that knowledge to practical use. The practice dates back to the Middle Ages, when craft guilds would take on young workers to pass their skills on to the next generation. While the day-to-day details of apprenticeships have changed, the fundamental principles have not. 

An apprentice position must last for a minimum of 12 months, though it can be extended beyond that time if both employer and employee agree. The employer provides paid work for their apprentice, with the wages subject to specific minimum wage rules for the first year of training. They will also provide time off for academic study on subjects relevant to the employer’s business. Due to the co-ordination required between work and study time, most organisations providing apprenticeship courses are also able to assist employers. Such assistance doesn’t just involve providing the training and monitoring results. It can also include assistance in advertising a vacancy and screening candidates so that the employer only sees those really suited to the position. East Sussex College, based on Station Plaza in Hastings town centre, operates a department dedicated to helping employers find suitable apprentices. If you wish to find out more from them, they can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone on 030 300 39777.

Successive governments have long aimed to promote apprenticeships as a way of improving the skills in the UK work-force. As part of the coronavirus recovery plans announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in early July, a further incentive is being offered to employers to take up this scheme. Employers taking on a new apprentice between 1st August 2020 and 31 January 2021 will be eligible to a bonus payment for each new apprentice they take on. 

Successive governments have long aimed to promote apprenticeships

The bonus is £2,000 for every 16-24-year old taken on and £1,500 for every apprentice over 25. These apprentices must be new employees. No bonus will be available for any individual who has been employed by the same employer within the last six months. To ensure that employers are committed to the scheme, the bonus will be paid in two instalments. The first instalment will be paid once the apprenticeship reaches 90 days, with the second paid when the first year of apprenticeship is completed.  Provided the eligibility criteria are met in each case, there is no limit to how many bonus payments an individual employer can qualify for. Claims for the bonus will be possible through the apprenticeship portal from 1st September 2020. 

All apprenticeships from 1st August 2020 will be required to be on full apprenticeship standards, with the old apprenticeship frameworks system being phased out. Any academic institution offering apprenticeship training after this date should ensure this new requirement is met. Funding to pay the costs of the academic training will continue to be available as before. The funding available for a particular apprentice will depend on the course undertaken, the candidate’s age and the size of the employer. For example, small employers (those with fewer than 50 employees) taking on an apprentice aged 16-18 will receive 100% funding up to the maximum possible for their particular field. Employers are still expected to negotiate the costs of training as far as possible with the training provider. 

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