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Government to simplify apprenticeship system for large employers

The Government has announced measures to simplify the apprenticeship system for larger employers.

Skills minister John Hayes (pictured) announced the measures at a CBI apprenticeship breakfast this morning.

Payments will be simplified, contracts streamlined and a number of data returns and audit requirements will be eliminated. 

Hayes said that firms that contract directly with the Government to train apprentices will now benefit from simplified payment, reporting and assessment requirements. They will also receive better guidance to help them manage the recruitment, training and assessment of apprentices more efficiently and cost effectively. 

Hayes said: “I’m determined that more employers and learners than ever should have the opportunity to benefit from our unprecedented investment in apprenticeships. Where red tape and bureaucracy deters employers from taking on apprentices, we’ll sweep it away.

“That will give more firms access to the skills they need to thrive, creating new jobs and new growth, and it will give many more individuals better prospects and the chance to gain a real stake in society.”

Measures for cutting red tape for employers include:

  • A pilot for over 20 large employers who have volunteered to trial “payment by outcomes” which will eliminate a number of data returns and audit requirements.
  • Providing an online plain-English toolkit for employers that clearly explains the end-to-end processes employers need to undertake for apprenticeships. * Streamlining contracting arrangements.
  • A commitment to no “in year” changes to contracting arrangements.
  • A more proportionate approach to audit and inspection - reducing preparation time for employers. * Greater use of electronic information, thus reducing paperwork.
  • A more streamlined certification process. These measures follow the recommendations of a review led by the Employer Reference Group, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and large companies, including BT and TUI Travel.

Susan Anderson, CBI director for education and skills policy, said: "We welcome this report and the Government's commitment to expanding apprenticeship schemes. "Apprenticeships are vital to developing the skills that support economic growth and many employers already deliver excellent programmes.

"Cutting bureaucracy will support even more businesses to become involved and these recommendations set out the right path for reform.

"They recognise that employers are primarily concerned with the day-to-day running of their businesses, and that they are committed to offering high-quality training as their reputation and business success depends on this. We will work with the Government to take these plans forward.

"We need to maximise spending on productive training and not divert resources to deal with administration. The money saved by reducing bureaucracy should support more apprenticeship places.

"These reforms should now be applied to smaller and medium-sized companies and the providers they work with. SMEs represent a significant market for apprenticeships and we must make it easier for these firms to access apprenticeship programmes."

Hayes was responding to a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills commissioned report on apprenticeship bureaucracy, which was developed in partnership with the CBI, BT and other leading employers.