This Week's News 08.09.17

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10 things you should know about Apprenticeships 2017

Apprenticeships are now funded differently for people of all ages

Apprenticeship training is funded at an equal level for all adult learners, so whether your apprentice is 18 or 60, 90% of the training cost will be covered by government. If your business has less than 50 employees and your apprentice is 16-18, 100% of the training cost will be covered. Prior to this change there has been little or no funding for over 24-year olds so this is great news as it allows people at all ages and stages of the business to benefit from developing their skills - something far more in keeping with a life-long learning approach to careers these days.

Your business must co-invest' 10% towards training

'Co-investment' is a key word in the new funding system. Businesses are required to co-invest 10% towards the cost of the apprenticeships training. This represents great value for money, as you can offer at least one year of intensive skills development to an employee and only have to pay 10% of the cost. Apprenticeships have been proven to deliver increased staff loyalty, lower recruitment costs, and a boost in productivity. The co-investment required is likely to be an extremely cost-effective method of gaining the skills your salon needs compared to alternative routes, not to mention the other benefits it brings.

A grant of £1,000 is available if you take on a 16-18-year-old

A grant of £1,000 will be given to all employers that employ a 16-18-year-old apprentice, irrespective of business size or payroll amount. And, if your business has less than 50 employees the government will fund 100% of the 16-18-year old's training costs too.

You can train an existing employee on an apprenticeship

Although this isn't new, it's definitely worth reiterating. Your apprentice doesn't have to be a new addition to your business. They can be an existing employee that would benefit from the quality and focused training, and the subsequent career development, that an apprenticeship can offer. The apprenticeship doesn't have to be in hairdressing either - perhaps a management or team leader apprenticeship would be a good fit?

Newly designed apprenticeships are being made available to employers

Apprenticeships have been experiencing a major refresh, not just in terms of funding, but in terms of content too. For the last couple of years the government has been encouraging and supporting groups of employers (known as trailblazer groups) to rewrite, and develop from new, apprenticeships that apply to job roles in their business. This has been to ensure that apprenticeships are completely fit for purpose and employer led. These new apprenticeships are called apprenticeship standards. By 2020, all existing apprenticeship frameworks will be switched off and all apprenticeships will be structured around the learning outcomes and assessment plans of the new standards. The introduction of standards is part of the government's objective to increase the quality of apprenticeships, and this, along with the legal protection for apprenticeships, makes them an increasingly appealing option for apprentices and businesses alike.

20% of the apprentices' time must be spent 'off the job' learning, but that doesn't necessarily mean in a classroom

According to the new funding rules, an apprentice must spend at least 20% 'off the job' on activities that constitute learning. However, before you think that means your apprentice will be sitting in a classroom one day a week, be aware that the 20% could encompass a whole range of learning activities that will both develop the apprentice and bring benefits to your business too. This might include coaching from an experienced employee, online learning and webinars, attending workshops, mentor support, and research. Also, the 20% isn't necessarily done on a weekly basis. It might suit your business better for this to be done in chunks of time, or for a couple of hours a few times a week. We can advise you about how the off the job requirement will work and fit it around the demands of your business.

Larger businesses are getting to grips with paying the Apprenticeship Levy right now

Businesses and organisations with an annual wage bill that exceeds £3 million are now paying the compulsory Apprenticeship Levy. The levy is calculated at 0.5% of a business's annual wage bill, minus a £15,000 allowance. The reason it's called an Apprenticeship Levy is because levy payers can recoup their payments to pay for apprenticeships training. To do so they must register on the Apprenticeships Service, where they can use the amount they've contributed, plus a 10% top up from government, to spend on apprenticeships training. The new levy is encouraging many larger employers to upscale their apprenticeship activities and therefore will be a significant driver in helping the government achieve its £3m apprenticeship starts target.

The National Minimum Wage for apprentices and abolished NI contributions make apprenticeships an affordable choice for small businesses

Growing a team is a significant investment for a small business, and apprenticeships can offer an affordable way to bring on new members of staff that will grow their skills in line with the business' growth plans. The minimum wage for apprentices aged 16-18, and for apprentices over the age of 19 and in the first year of their apprenticeship, is £3.50. Many employers pay more, and particularly for older apprentices it may be appropriate to do so, but if you're taking on a junior member of staff and this is the only way to employ them this can be an affordable option. An added incentive is that as of April last year, employers no longer need to pay National Insurance contributions for apprentices under the age of 25.

Finding the right training provider is key!

A critical success factor in an apprenticeship is an effective partnership between the training provider and the employer. Finding the right training provider for your business is essential - and we are here for you! We pride ourselves on supporting your recruitment, our experience of delivering apprenticeships in the workplace, the flexible delivery and how well we integrate the apprenticeship with the demands of your business.

Developing mentoring skills can help make the apprenticeship a success

Once your apprentice (or apprentices!) are in place you'll want to do what you can to ensure they're happy in the business, and ideally providing a return on investment as soon as possible. One way to do this is to develop mentoring skills that can help you empower your apprentice, drawing on their resourcefulness to achieve their work and study requirements. You might even appoint an existing team member as a mentor which can develop their management skills and free up your time too. We have produced a mentoring handbook and Charlotte will be talking about this at the next Partner Salon Network meeting on Tuesday 17th October.

Are Functional Skills important?

Yes! Functional Skills are the essential skills needed for English and maths and are vital for young people and adults to participate in life, learning and work. They were introduced in September 2010 and officially replaced Key Skills in England in October 2012 are a mandatory element in apprenticeships. Problem solving is at the heart of Functional Skills; they require the learner to apply their knowledge and understanding in a range of familiar and unfamiliar situations. Level 1 Functional Skills are equivalent to a GCSE Grade D-E or grades 2 and 3 and Level 2 Functional Skills are equivalent to GCSE Grade A*-C or grades 4 and above. Unless exempt at level 2, all learners must work towards level 2 English and maths. Some learners will need to start at a lower level and achieve level 1 before starting level 2 work. Learners on the new Hair Professional standard, who are not exempt from Functional Skills, must sit the level 2 tests to pass through the gateway and be eligible to take the EPA. All learners, even those who are exempt at level 2, must be seen to develop and extend their English and maths skills during their apprenticeship - and Ofsted inspectors do look at this. Functional Skills are currently under review to ensure their continued rigour and academic currency. Disappointingly, results from this reform programme have been pushed back until 2019.

British Chambers of Commerce finds 20 per cent of businesses hit by rising employment costs through levy

This British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) annual workforce survey looks at the cost implications for business because of changes in employment legislation. Amongst the findings is the figure that a fifth (20%) of businesses have seen costs increase from the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, whilst others are having to accommodate proposed increases in the National Living Wage over the next three years, the Immigration Skills Charge and the need for pension auto-enrolment. Given the need for the UK to remain an attractive and competitive trading environment going forward (particularly in the light of Brexit), BCC is therefore calling on the government to ensure no new upfront costs or taxes are imposed on business for the remainder of this parliament.

Congratulations to the following learners who completed their Apprenticeships this week

Amy O'Halleran - Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship - Academy, Hersham
Charlie Crawford - Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship - Stone, Bournemouth
Jemma Seymour - Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship - Hair Lab, Basingstoke


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