Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Freight and Logistics Sector Welcomes Government Change of Heart on Apprenticeships

Non Levy Payers Now to be Included in Scheme
Shipping News Feature

UK – The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has stated that 40% of SME's applying for apprenticeship grants are being rejected due to the fact they are not eligible for the government Apprenticeship Levy Scheme by way of simply being too small.

Now the government is extending the digital apprenticeship service to include small and medium sized businesses. In December Road Haulage Association (RHA) chief executive Richard Burnett pointed out that the logistics sector had funded the Levy to the tune of £300 million, yet only drawn down around £20 million in benefit.

It is not all good news however, there is a limited amount left in the kitty of the providers and therefore it seems only three new recruits will be permissible to the small and medium sized businesses and this has led to calls from the AELP for the restoration of the £1.5 billion budget which was in place for SMEs prior to the introduction of the Levy which draws funds from any companies with a wage bill of £3 million and above.

An early transition period through until March will be an initial test phase for the extension of the scheme, during which time the Education and Skills Funding Agency (EFSA) will undertake large scale testing, seeking feedback from smaller employers and training providers. During the transition EFSA 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 this test phase, additional funding will be made available for up to 15,000 new starts through the service. As it enables smaller employers to use the apprenticeship service, it is introducing the ability for them to reserve funds for training and has published updated versions of the Funding Rules and new Reservations Policy Statement.

For the logistics industry the government move seems to be a welcome change and the British International Freight Association (BIFA) says the news that the government is expanding access to the apprenticeship service to employers who are not one of the existing 22,000 apprenticeship levy-payers using the service already, will be of great benefit to many of its members.

BIFA says that 90% of its corporate members fall into the SME bracket which do not qualify as levy-payers and have had restricted access to the apprenticeship service to date, causing Robert Keen, BIFA Director General to comment:

“The news that the EFSA is now expanding access to the apprenticeship service will be welcomed by companies within our membership who are non-levy payers as they will now have greater ownership, visibility and involvement with apprenticeships, funding and access to a wider range of high-quality training providers.

“This means that SMEs within our membership will have greater control over the apprenticeships with which they engage, and could lead to a significant increase in the number of individuals enrolling on the International Freight Forwarding Specialist apprenticeship, in which BIFA had a significant role prior to its launch in 2018.

“Any BIFA Member should contact one of the apprentice providers who will be able to help them navigate through the process. It is important to act quickly and there is an option to reserve funding, with which one of the apprentice providers will be able to assist.”

Photo: Powder Monkey: It’s fair to say modern apprenticeships in the shipping industry aren’t quite as stressful as previously