'Use or lose' apprenticeship funding
The Education and Skills Funding Agency said small employers - with annual wage bills of under £3m - should sign up without delay.
Employers 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.
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.
Dale Robinson, director of business development at The Source Skills Academy in Sheffield, said: “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.
"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."
The Source has launched a specialist apprenticeship service to help SMEs understand the changes and take up the advantages. 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.
During National Apprenticeship Week (February 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.
Mr Robinson said: “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.”