05 May 2021 #Employment
The Government is consulting on how its proposed flexi-job apprenticeship schemes could be run, with input invited until 1 June 2021.
Announced by the Chancellor in the Spring 2021 Budget, the format would offer new ways for an apprentice to work across a range of projects and with different employers to gain the skills and experience needed to complete their programme.
It is hoped that the flexi-job approach will create additional opportunities in sectors where employment patterns are more fluid and short-term projects are common – such as agriculture, construction and creative sectors including TV, film and theatre production.
The employment prospects of young adults in the UK have been hard hit by the pandemic.
A BBC round-up of statistical analysis in September 2020 highlighted that under-25s were more likely to be furloughed than any other age group because of their disproportionate representation in hospitality and retail. The number of graduate jobs advertised in 2020 nose-dived across the board – by as much as 84% in some sectors, such as marketing. Apprenticeships also stalled, particularly in tourism and retail.
Currently, the use of an Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA) can already help multiple businesses provide a shared apprenticeship experience. The ATA takes responsibility for employing and paying apprentices and places them with multiple end-user businesses in exchange for a fee. Businesses can pay the fee jointly and share responsibility for training over the minimum 12-month period.
The new proposals go further – making it possible for more organisations to set themselves up as agencies (also known as employment businesses), in the hope of increasing the number and range of apprenticeship opportunities available.
However, organisations that are new to acting as an agency will need to become familiar with a range of applicable legislation and legal obligations – for example, the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations 2003 and Agency Worker Regulations 2010. These set out minimum information requirements and rights applicable to apprentices, triggered at the outset of a placement and after 12 weeks in a role.
The Department for Education is seeking views from employers, apprentices, sector bodies and existing ATAs.
The consultation also covers other proposals, such as portable apprenticeships which would allow apprentices to take breaks between projects without falling foul of the current requirement to be in continuous employment for the duration of an apprenticeship.
Following the consultation, organisations and employers will be invited to submit bids for access to a £7m fund to create the first of the new schemes in July 2021, with the first approved flexi-job apprenticeships expected to start in January 2022.
Respond to the consultation here: Flexi-Job Apprenticeships: Reshaping the role of Apprenticeship Training Agencies - Department for Education - Citizen Space