The initiative by the government to put apprenticeships well and truly on the map seems to have been well timed whether by design or not.
The new Apprenticeship Levy – introduced in April – must be paid by employers in England with a payroll of more than £3m and is charged at a rate of 0.5% of their annual wage bill.
Many employers have been quick to criticise the scheme as another burden coming on the back of minimum wage increases and auto-enrolment pension schemes.
But with skills gaps now affecting many sectors, and with Brexit bringing the prospect of tighter immigration controls, we need to address the skills shortages through whatever means whichever way this is achieved.
Indeed, the apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon says the government is giving employers more power to design schemes to meet their own specific needs.
Alongside the levy, the new Institute for Apprenticeships is to act as a watchdog that approves apprenticeship standards and assessments as the new drive aims to create three million new apprenticeships by the year 2020.
The options for young people to take another route other than university – and the costs that go with it – are at least opening with a diverse menu of apprenticeship types and levels. The new initiative can also help those already in employment with new opportunities.
We at Jigsaw Training fully support the efforts to increase the options for skilling and training young people – as well as older people – and we seek to ensure the quality of training is upheld at the same time as making it available to increasing numbers.
Getting this phase of the push on apprenticeships right is crucial and it relies on the employers taking action now to register and providers being prepared as we all enter this brave new era.