Government launches incentive scheme to boost apprenticeships – but is it enough?

As a result of the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the UK government has launched a new incentive scheme to encourage more employers across the UK to take on apprentices.

The scheme, which was announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak during his summer statement, comes following research published by the Department of Education in July that suggested the number of people beginning apprenticeships had almost halved compared to the same period last year.

Sunak stated: “We know apprenticeships work. Ninety-one per cent stay in work or go on to further training. For the next six months we are going to pay employers to create new apprenticeships.”

Whilst many have praised the Governments move to boost apprenticeships, questions around if the support will be enough to encourage businesses remain. 

How does the scheme work?

The incentives come as part of the government’s ‘Plan for Jobs ‘, a strategy that aims to support, protect and retain jobs to spur the UK’s recovery from the Coronavirus outbreak.

With suggestions that young workers are amongst the worst impacted by the pandemic, employers are being offered cash incentives of up to £2,000 for every apprentice they hire.

The incentives are available for any employer and businesses will receive a payment of £2,000 for each apprentice under the age of 25, and £1,500 for apprentices aged 25 and over.

These payments will be in addition to the existing £1,000 incentive that the government already provides for apprentices aged between 16 and 18 years old, and those under 25 with an Education, Health and Care plan.

The incentives are currently available for a 6-month period from August 2020 to January 2021. Employers who want to take advantage of the offer can apply through the government’s award-winning digital apprenticeship service.

Is the scheme enough?

Many have praised the incentives, and at the Apprenticeship Academy we’re welcoming the support. It’s fantastic to see the government recognising the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on apprenticeships and making a clear commitment to supporting our younger generation of workers.

However, we are yet to see if the scheme will be enough to really encourage businesses to invest in training and hiring an apprentice during what is an incredibly uncertain time for many.

Research conducted by Checkatrade, an online directory of recommended tradespeople, found that a wage contribution would encourage more than 72 per cent of respondents to take on an apprentice.

However, the survey, which was conducted amongst more than 1000 independent trade firms before the government’s incentives were announced, also stated that almost half (45 per cent) of the firms surveyed would need a minimum contribution of £7,000 to take on an apprentice.

What does the future hold for apprenticeships?

It’s clear that the next few months are going to be a crucial period for both businesses and apprentices.

We’re passionate about apprenticeships and the vital role they will play in the recovery of the UK economy. We know that the business benefits of taking on an apprentice can be huge and they offer a fantastic way to develop the skills that the UK workforce needs for the future.

We’d encourage any employer to take advantage of the apprentice cash boost whilst the scheme is available.

If you’re an employer within the heating or plumbing sector looking for an apprentice and would like to take advantage of the government’s incentive scheme, get in touch with us today and we can help you get started on your journey.

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