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Apprenticeship reforms

Apprenticeships in England are in the process of changing. They are being redesigned by the Government to meet the growing needs of learners and their employers.

Frameworks will be replaced by standards

The way apprentices learn and how they are assessed is also changing. Under the reforms, employer-designed apprenticeship standards will replace frameworks. The standards will:

  • define an apprenticeship that lasts a minimum of 12 months
  • be linked to a specific occupational level
  • respond to employers’ needs, ensuring that apprenticeships are high quality, rigorous, and develop the knowledge, skills and behaviour required for a specific job role
  • be designed to prepare the apprentice for the end-point assessment.

The introduction of independent end-point assessment (EPA) is one of the biggest changes in the Government’s apprenticeship reforms. End-point assessment is a new way of assuring quality, replacing the model of continuous assessment resulting in qualifications. Once an apprentice has completed their apprenticeship, they will be ‘signed off’ by their employer as ready for end-point assessment of their knowledge and practical capabilities. In most cases, the assessment will be graded and must show the apprentice is fully competent and productive in the occupation.

Apprenticeship funding

All frameworks will change to standards by 2020. View the apprenticeship standard funding bands.

Find out more about how apprenticeship funding will work.

Apprenticeship levy

As an employer, you’ll have to pay apprenticeship levy each month from 6 April 2017 if you:

  • have an annual pay bill of more than £3 million
  • are connected to other companies or charities for Employment Allowance which in total have an annual pay bill of more than £3 million.

Find out more about the apprenticeship levy.

Non-levy paying employers

Although you won’t be paying into the new apprenticeship levy or using the new digital apprenticeship service to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment until at least 2018, the way apprenticeships are funded will still change for you.

If you are an employer who will not have to pay the levy, you will need to be aware of the following:

  • The new funding system comes into effect from 1 May 2017.

  • Non-levy employers will pay 10% towards the training directly to the provider, with the government paying the remaining 90% through ‘co-investment’.

  • Every apprenticeship (framework or new standard) is allocated a maximum funding band value to which the government will contribute.

  • Employers with less than 50 employees will not have to contribute towards the costs of a 16-18 year old apprentice.

  • For new apprentices who are aged 16-18, young care leavers and young people with an Education and Health Care (EHC) plan there may be a £1000 employer incentive available.