The next steps of the apprenticeship reform currently being implemented aim to support employers offering new apprenticeships based on revised standards.

In England, apprentices are aged 16 and above, with apprenticeships combining studying and working in a specific job. Apprentices can be either current or new employees, and the apprenticeship can be between one and five years in duration.

Involving employers in organising apprenticeships

In January 2020, the online Apprenticeship Service was opened up to employers who are not currently subject to the apprenticeship levy. This covers employers with a pay bill of less than GBP 3 million per annum, which share the cost of apprenticeships with the government.

This online system enables employers to organise and pay for their apprenticeships, rather than having the apprenticeship allocated to them. The service gives employers the freedom to choose the provider and to manage their funding allocation, as well as the opportunity to advertise for and recruit an apprentice. Once recruited, employers can use the online system to manage details of their apprentices.

Promoting employer-led apprenticeship standards

The two-year transition period from NVQ-based apprenticeship frameworks to apprenticeship standards will end on 31 July 2020, with all apprenticeships being offered from the 2020-21 academic year shaped to follow the standards rather than the frameworks.

The new apprenticeship standards are designed by employers and are intended to meet the needs of the specific job that the apprenticeship will train the apprentice towards. The standards outline the level of the apprenticeship, the duration, the funding band and the entry requirements. They also set out what apprentices will learn, how they are assessed, what qualifications they will receive and whether the apprenticeship leads to professional registration. The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education started operations in England in 2017 as an independent statutory body with a remit to develop and maintain quality criteria for apprenticeships and assessment plans, support employer-led development of new apprenticeship standards and regulate apprenticeship quality.

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