Flexible apprenticeships consultation launched

Adrian Sherratt / Alamy Stock Photo

The Education and Skills Funding Agency has launched a consultation on the new ‘flexible’ apprenticeship, announced in the budget, and employers have until the end of May to make submissions.

The chancellor last month unveiled a £7 million flexi-job apprenticeship fund that will enable apprentices to work across a range of projects with different employers to gain the full skills and experience they need to complete their programme.

Sectors including the creative, agriculture and construction industries will soon be able to offer more flexible apprenticeship opportunities. For example in film, TV and theatre production, one apprentice would be able to work on different productions during their training.

The consultation seeks views on how new flexi-job apprenticeship schemes could be run. Some sectors with more flexible employment patterns, short-term roles and project – such as agriculture, construction and creative sectors, have found it challenging to create enough opportunities in a traditional 12-month apprenticeship scheme.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “We want everyone to be able to get the experience and knowledge they need to get the job they want, while making sure employers have the talented workforce they need. Our flexi-job apprenticeships will boost opportunities in sectors like the creative industries where employment is often flexible or short term.”

The ESFA wants to make apprenticeships portable by :

  • enabling employers to recruit apprentices even though they cannot employ the apprentice for the whole duration of their programme
  • making it easier for apprentices and employers to see the progress that an apprentice has made through their training and the skills and experience they would bring to their next project, and
  • allowing apprentices to pause and then resume their apprenticeship between projects, and for funding to stop and start as required despite changes in employer.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “We know apprenticeships work – which is why they’re a central plank of our plan for jobs. The new flexi-job scheme will create more opportunities for apprentices across England, giving them the hope, skills and experience to progress their career and drive our recovery from the pandemic.”

The consultation ends on 1 June 2021 and is seeking views from employers, apprentices, sector bodies and existing apprenticeship training agencies. In July employers will be invited to bid for a share of a £7 million fund to create and test new flexi-apprenticeships schemes, with the first approved flexi-job apprenticeships expected to start in January 2022.

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