The Spring Budget was announced last week and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak offered a range of measures for skills, training and new business. He has committed to a range of new investments in the further education and skills sector, including increased incentives for companies to hire apprenticeships and funding for small businesses to upskill their workforce. Explore the new developments below.
Increased Cash Incentives for New Apprentice Hires
In August the chancellor first announced financial incentives for businesses who took on new apprentices. Currently, firms can claim up to £2000 per apprentice aged 16 to 24 and £1,500 for apprentices aged 25 and over. The scheme was due to end this month, but it has been officially extended until September. Employers can also benefit from an increased apprenticeship incentive if they hire between 1st April and 30th September 2021 as £3000 incentives will be available, regardless of the age of the apprentice. This is a real boost for people looking to find an apprenticeship as more businesses are being encouraged to give them a chance and businesses can also benefit financially from giving new apprentices this opportunity.
New “Portable” Apprenticeship Scheme
A new £7million fund is being launched in July 2021 to help employers “set up and expand portable apprenticeships”. This new scheme is an idea which should allow people who need to work across multiple projects with different employers benefit from the long-term, high quality training apprenticeships can provide. The Budget document highlights industries such as TV and film as prime examples of where an apprenticeship which is “portable” so allows for further flexibility could be ideal. They have also been labelled “flexi-job” apprenticeships and the first should be available as early as January 2022.
Help to Grow Scheme for Upskilling Small Business
The government Budget document also promises to offer a UK-wide management programme which will upskill 30,000 SMEs over the next three years. The programme is described as combining “a national curriculum delivered through business schools with practical case studies and mentoring from experienced business professionals.” The government will provide a 90% subsidy for the scheme and has committed £60m tor the scheme in 2021-22 and a further £75m in 2022-23.
Further Funding for Traineeships
The government’s traineeship scheme is being given a further boost as the Budget commits a further £126m for work placements and training for 16- to 24-year-olds in the coming 2021/22 academic year. They are hoping this will attract 40,000 more traineeships to begin by September. Employers accepting trainees and providing them with work experience will still receive funding at £1,000 per trainee, providing a further incentive to give young trainees an opportunity to expand their experience.
The Spring Budget appears to offer a positive step forward to the training and skills sector, with measures to help businesses support more apprentices and give people opportunities to find work and work experience.