This Week's News 09.02.18


The national minimum wage for apprentices will rise in April 2018, from £3.50 to £3.70 an hour. This is a 5.7% increase, above UK inflation. This rate applies to apprentices under 19 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year. Apprentices must be paid at least the national minimum wage rate if they're an apprentice aged 19 or over and have completed their first year.

Benefits of apprenticeships

  • growing your business and solving recruitment challenges
  • breeding creativity and enthusiasm with new talent, or retaining and upskilling current staff
  • providing training that's tailored to the needs and requirements of your business - learning can even be done in your workplace, minimising disruption and maximising impact

An apprenticeship is a real job. Apprentices are your employees but must spend 20% of their time in formal training - often provided in partnership with a training provider. You can get government apprenticeship funding to cover some of the cost of training and assessing an apprentice. The amount of funding you can get will depend on whether or not you pay the apprenticeship levy and your apprentices' circumstances. For SMEs, the amount of funding you can get will depend on the size of your business and your apprentices' circumstances:

  • the government pays 90% of an SME's training and assessment costs for the lifetime of the apprenticeship, any age, any level (up to funding band maximum)
  • an extra £1,000 grant will be paid to any SME who takes on a 16 to 18-year-old or 19 to 24-year-old who has previously been in care
  • businesses with under 50 staff will also see 100% of training and assessment costs paid for if they recruit an apprentice aged 16 to 18
  • further support is also available for SMEs who take on those with additional learning needs

Read the Employer Guide to Apprenticeships

Few employees aware of statutory sick pay entitlement

Only 4% of employees know how much statutory sick pay they are entitled to, according to a health insurer, leaving many people at risk of struggling financially if they had a long-term condition.

A survey by Direct Line Life Insurance found that many workers mistakenly believed they would receive their full salary if they fell ill. Despite almost half (43%) of companies reducing wages to statutory sick pay after a person has been off sick for two weeks, 8% of employees claimed that they had never heard of statutory sick pay. Employees are eligible to receive it at a rate of £89.35 per week for up to 28 weeks.

Last week the European Committee of Social Rights found that statutory sick pay arrangements in the UK are in breach of its legal obligations under the European Social Charter. It said that, in many cases, sick people were receiving less than 40% of the UK's median income - a situation it described as "manifestly inadequate".

Qualifications WILL be allowed for apprenticeships

Strict rules that apprenticeships cannot include qualifications are set to be overturned, potentially unsticking a series of standards held up for years by the ban. The Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) is expected to announce that qualifications, such as the Diploma in Hairdressing (7002) in the level 2 Hair Professional apprenticeship will now be considered. Both existing qualifications and those in development will be covered in the rule change, representing a significant U-turn on previous guidance. This means, that although a qualification had been ruled out for the level 2 Senior Hair Professional, one could still be introduced as part of the standard. Current rules state that, except in "certain specific circumstances", standards "should not incorporate qualifications". The trailblazer group for hair and beauty fought hard to have a qualification in the new Hair Professional apprenticeship standard. Last summer the rules were tightened to include a bar on allowing employer groups to submit a standard for approval if it includes a qualification that's still in development.

Professional footballers found guilty of £5m apprenticeship subcontracting fraud

Two former professional footballers and two other men have been found guilty of scamming colleges out of £5 million in apprenticeship funding, through a con which involved "ghost" learners. Mark Aizlewood, who played for Wales 39 times in the 1980s and 1990s, and Paul Sugrue who played for clubs including Manchester City, Middlesbrough and Cardiff City, had the verdicts delivered today at Southwark Crown Court, following a five-month trial. Two of their former colleagues at the now-defunct provider Luis Michael Training, Keith Williams, 45, from Anglesey, and Jack Harper, 30, from Southport, were also found guilty on fraud charges. Throughout the trial, the court heard that LMT used its well-known footballing names to defraud the taxpayer between 2009 and 2011 by persuading nine colleges to use it as a subcontractor, using cash they got from the government to deliver apprenticeships. Sparsholt College came out worst off, having signed contracts worth more than £4 million, although not all of this money was handed over before the scam was exposed. Also involved were South Staffordshire College, Hopwood Hall College, Newbury College, Barnet College, Barry College, Leek College, Dearne Valley College and South Thames College. The total value of all the contracts the colleges signed with Luis Michael Training was £5,188,355, of which more than £3.5 million was actually paid.

Team ITS warmly welcomes these learners who started their Apprenticeships this week

Emily Knight - Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship - Capella, Frimley
Martha Barnes - Level 2 Hair Professional Apprenticeship - Toni & Guy, Woking
Saffron MacIntyre - Level 2 Hair professional Apprenticeship - Philip Hussey, Guildford

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