In March 2015 ahead of the annual budget and as part of an ongoing shake-up to the way that apprenticeship schemes are delivered in the UK, it was announced by the government that 2017 would see the introduction of the ‘digital apprenticeship voucher’. The aim of this digital method of accessing government funding is to ensure that apprenticeship schemes are more appealing and practical to UK businesses, and the system goes hand in hand with the government’s target of reaching 3 Million active apprenticeships in the UK over the next few years.
What Are Apprenticeship Vouchers?
Apprenticeship vouchers are a means by which employers can obtain discounts on training costs incurred when taking on apprentices and offering them a qualification alongside their learning-based role within the company. They are obtained through an online route.
How Can Apprenticeship Vouchers Be Used?
There is still a certain degree of uncertainty regarding many aspects of Apprenticeship Vouchers. Over the course of the next few months and into 2017, more information on the Apprenticeship Levy should become widely available to UK businesses and prospective apprentices.
In the mean-time, however, the basic system for Apprenticeship Vouchers appears relatively straightforward and can be broken down into four short stages:
Step 1: If you are an employer and you wish to integrate an apprenticeship scheme, you simply have to enter details about your business online in what should be a relatively easy procedure.
Step 2: The employer should receive a code based upon the details they have entered.
Step 3: Once the employer has settled upon a job role and training scheme, the code is sent to the accredited training provider which is offering the apprenticeship qualification.
Step 4: The training provider obtains (from the government) a certain chunk of the fees owed for the training. This percentage can vary depending on several factors surrounding the apprenticeship training on offer, the age of the apprentice etc.
Will Apprenticeship Vouchers Work?
Whilst there is a fair way to go until the introduction of Apprenticeship Vouchers, the new system does seem relatively straightforward and it appears to be a feasible approach to apprenticeship management.
By the money effectively bypassing the employer and going direct to the training provider, it allows businesses a good amount of control over what apprenticeship scheme/training provider they wish to utilise and it also alleviates any concerns that the training provider may have in terms of funds, costs, and government funding. Some apprenticeship schemes, particularly for those apprentices at the lower end of the eligible age scale, could see extremely large portions of the training costs become covered by government funding.
The aim of the new Digital Apprenticeship Voucher is to simplify apprenticeship schemes, especially for smaller SMEs who as a result of the voucher would not necessarily have to provide fees and deal with up-front training costs. With some discounts on training costs being incredibly high, apprenticeship vouchers could be extremely beneficial for many UK businesses which, until now, may have been put off offering an apprenticeship scheme for various reasons.