From today, the ESFA is expanding access to the apprenticeship service to employers who are not one of the existing 22,000 levy-payers using the service already. This will be of enormous benefit to SMEs connecting with apprenticeships across England.
Non-levy payers will now have greater ownership, visibility and involvement with apprenticeships, funding and access to a wider range of high-quality training providers. This will mean that SMEs – that form 99 per cent of the businesses in the UK – will be in greater control of the apprenticeships that they engage with.
The early transition – from now until March – will be an initial test phase, during which time we will undertake large scale testing, seeking feedback from smaller employers and training providers. During the transition in 2020 we will continue to run contracts with training providers so smaller employers have a choice around how they access apprenticeship funding, joining the apprenticeship service when they feel they are ready.
During the test phase, additional funding will be made available for up to 15,000 new starts through the service.
As we enable smaller employers to use the apprenticeship service, we are introducing the ability for them to reserve a funds for training. This will allow us to forecast, monitor and manage apprenticeships funding within the overall budget for apprenticeships. To manage a gradual transition from contracted training provision to employers arranging their own apprenticeships through the apprenticeship service, employers will initially be able to reserve funding for up to three apprenticeships.