The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has introduced guidance and measures to support apprentices during the COVID-19 pandemic, which took effect immediately on 23 March 2020. The ESFA's guidance only applies to England and the measures cover several areas of concern for apprentices, employers, and training and assessment providers.
The Apprenticeship Levy, which came into force in April 2017, requires employers with pay bills over £3 million to pay 0.5% of their total gross pay bill to the government (through PAYE) which is then used to fund approved apprenticeship programmes. Each employer has an annual Apprenticeship Levy allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy liability.
The Apprenticeship Levy has now been in force for a year. The government's aim in introducing the Levy was to reverse the decline in the use of apprenticeships by ring fencing funds which would be set aside in order to tackle skills shortages. One year on, has it worked?
There have been rumours circulating in the news over the past 12 months about the declining number of graduate roles that will be available in the UK over the next few years. And it seems that those fears have not been unfounded. Research carried out by High Fliers, the student research specialist, has shown that the UK's biggest graduate recruiters - including Goldman Sachs, Unilever and BP – hired almost 1,000 less graduates in 2016 than they originally anticipated at the start of that year. Many are speculating that this is the result of ongoing and widespread uncertainty about how Brexit will affect businesses in the years ahead. The largest drop was seen in the accounting and professional services companies, banking and finance and investment banking. This trend was also reflected in the private sector, with statistics reporting that graduate recruitment for those business fell 10.3 per cent in 2017.