Increased financial support for employers who hire apprentices
Support is continuing to be rolled out across the country to help businesses and the economy recover from the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. During Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s recent Budget announcement, increased financial support and extensions to existing incentives for businesses that take on apprentices were confirmed, which could benefit employers across Cornwall.
Apprenticeship financial support was first introduced in August 2020, offering employers £2,000 for taking on an apprentice aged 16 to 24, before 31 March 2021, and £1,500 for employing apprentices aged 25 and over.
The Chancellor has confirmed that support has been extended for a further six months and cash incentives have doubled. Employers will receive £3,000 per new apprentice who is hired between 1 April 2021 and 30 September 2021, regardless of the apprentice’s age.
This payment is in addition to the existing £1,000 businesses already get for taking on an apprentice who is aged 16 to 18 years old, or under 25 and has an education, health and care plan or has been in the care of their local authority. This means some employers could receive £4,000 in total.
This support could make a real impact for businesses throughout Cornwall and across a range of sectors. Apprenticeships offer great value to businesses – employers who have taken on apprentices said productivity in their workplace had improved by 76%, and 75% reported that apprenticeships improved the quality of their product or service. A lot has changed in the past year and businesses have had to adapt accordingly. This means upskilling their team could be a new priority for many employers and hiring an apprentice is a great way to do this.
Portable or Shared apprenticeships
Many small businesses have been unable to reap the benefits of hiring an apprentice due to criteria such as the minimum of a 12-month placement. The nature of some sectors, such as the creative industries and construction, means they can’t offer a placement with one employer for the required length of time. For example, in TV and film projects can run for only a few months.
These types of industries will now be able to hire apprentices following the announcement that £7million is being provided by the government for ‘portable’ or ‘flexi-job’ apprenticeships. This means apprentices can carry out their apprenticeship with multiple employers. The fund will the introduced from July 2021 to “help employers in England set up and expand portable apprenticeships”. It will enable people to “benefit from the high quality long-term training that an apprenticeship provides” with different employers across multiple projects. This is likely to benefit micro-businesses who may find it difficult to commit to a full apprenticeship, and the creative industries sector which has a lot of freelancers working on a project basis. The creative industries have been among Cornwall’s fastest growing sectors. The good news in Cornwall is employers can already benefit from sharing an Apprentice with another employer, or have an Apprentice without directly employing them. By using an Apprenticeship Agency, more employers can benefit from Apprenticeships.
Boost to traineeships
Traineeships are a great tool to help young people gain experience and prepare themselves for an apprenticeship. They also allow employers to see if a young person or Apprentice could be right for their business The trainee will have a short unpaid placement with an employer as well as attending college for key skills and support.
The Chancellor announced in the Budget that the government will provide an additional £126 million for placements and training for 16 to 24 year-olds for the next academic year. This is on top of the £111 million invested in 2020/21.
Employers who host a trainee for a work placement will continue to receive a £1,000 incentive.
Another Government-backed employment scheme is called the Kickstart Scheme. This provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit, recognising that covid job losses have hit young people the hardest.
The scheme covers 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of six months.
The Kickstart Scheme could be a stepping stone to an apprenticeship or a permanent job.
You can find more advice about apprenticeships during the coronavirus pandemic and find out more about financial incentives for hiring a new apprentice or how apprenticeships are funded.