Yorkshire SMEs urged to ‘use or lose’ new route to apprenticeship funding
Thousands of Yorkshire SMEs are being warned they need to crack on with the Government’s new rules on accessing apprenticeship funding, or risk losing out on funding to grow workforce skills of the future.
From this month, all SMEs must administer their apprenticeship contracts via the digital Apprenticeship Service – just as large-scale businesses have been doing for the last three years.
The Education and Skills Funding Agency have confirmed that small employers – with annual wage bills of under £3million – should sign up without delay.
But one of the region’s leading training providers fears many of the thousands of non-levy paying SMEs in Yorkshire either don’t know they need to register, or don’t understand why.
“We welcome the long-awaited release of the digital service to SMEs. It allows them to select the apprenticeship provider they want to work with,” said Dale Robinson, Director of Business Development at The Source Skills Academy in Sheffield.
“But companies still don’t know about it. If in the near future you want to set on apprentices or grow the skills of existing staff through apprenticeships, it is essential you register and reserve funds now. It is a case of: If you’re not on the list, you’re not coming in,” he added.
A registered charity set up in 2003 to boost the local economy by helping people develop careers, The Source has now launched a specialist apprenticeship service to help SMEs understand the changes and take up the advantages.
Believed to be the only one set up by a training and skills provider in the Sheffield City Region, the service will be run by one of The Source’s own apprentices, Morgan Barton, supported by a team of three from the recruitment team.
In addition, during National Apprenticeship Week (Feb 3-9), a Drop-In Apprenticeship Employer Event is being staged on Wednesday February 5 at The Source on Meadowhall Way from 10am-4pm to talk businesses through the process and discuss apprenticeships.
Explained Mr Robinson: “Since 2017 we have seen large-scale companies struggling to get their heads around the Levy and disengaging with apprentices as a result. National statistics show a 23 per cent decline in apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds from 2016/17 to 2019.
“This is bad news for young people looking for careers and also for workforces. Young people bring vitality and new skills and attitudes.”
“We aim to ensure local SMEs understand and register with the Apprenticeship Service so they can continue to thrive by taking on and ‘growing’ talented people from this region.”