Government reduces red tape for employers taking on apprentices

Skills minister John Hayes has announced new measures to make it easier for employers to take on large numbers of apprentices.

Hayes said that firms that are contracted directly with the Government to train apprentices will now benefit from simplified payment, reporting and assessment requirements. The move comes in response to the recommendations of a review led by the Employer Reference Group, the CBI and large companies, including BT and TUI Travel.

Employers will also receive better guidance to help them manage the recruitment, training and assessment of apprentices more efficiently and cost effectively, according to a statement from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Business secretary Vince Cable said: “Apprenticeships are proving an increasingly effective training route for young people and companies. They are a proven way to fill skills gaps in our economy. That’s why we are boosting the number of apprenticeships and putting them at the heart of our ‘Skills for Growth’ strategy.

“But, for far too long, too many businesses have been put off by overly complex procedures and unnecessary layers of paperwork. We’ve worked with business to cut bureaucracy and ensure the benefits for employers, learners and the economy are maximised.”

Announcing the measures at a CBI summit hosted today, Hayes said: “Where red tape and bureaucracy deters employers from taking on apprentices, we’ll sweep it away. That will give more firms access to the skills they need to thrive, creating new jobs and new growth, and it will give many more individuals better prospects and the chance to gain a real stake in society.”

Key aspects of the plan include:

  • A pilot for more than 20 large employers that have volunteered to trial “payment by outcomes”, which will eliminate various administrative and audit requirements.
  • Providing an online plain-English toolkit for employers that clearly explains the end-to-end processes that employers need to undertake for apprenticeships.
  • Streamlining contracting arrangements.
  • A commitment to no “in year” changes to contracting arrangements.
  • A more proportionate approach to audit and inspection – reducing preparation time for employers.

Susan Anderson, CBI director for education and skills policy, commented: “Apprenticeships are vital to developing the skills that support economic growth and many employers already deliver excellent programmes.

“Cutting bureaucracy will support even more businesses to become involved and these recommendations set out the right path for reform. They recognise that employers are primarily concerned with the day-to-day running of their businesses, and that they are committed to offering high-quality training as their reputation and business success depends on this. We will work with government to take these plans forward.”

Andy Palmer, BT director of education and skills, said: “For the last year BT has worked as part of BIS’s employer reference group to improve the system and reduce the burdens on employers. The changes we are proposing will have a significant impact on bureaucracy rather than merely tinkering at the edges.”

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