As part of the Budget being announced tomorrow (3rd March), the Chancellor is set to outline how the Government is boosting traineeships in England by £126 million in addition to introducing flexi-job apprenticeships.
In a move that intends to tackle growing youth unemployment, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce new flexi-job apprenticeships as well as funding to boost current systems in England as part of the Budget announcement.
Flexi-job apprenticeships are set to be introduced from January 2022 and will allow workers to work for a number of different employers in a single sector.
In addition to this, the Chancellor is also set to announce an increase in the incentives offered to companies that choose to take on apprentices. From the 1st April 2021, this will rise to a £3000 cash incentive per hire, regardless of the age of the apprentice, with a simpler system implemented overall.
Currently, as part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs outlined in the summer, employers in England receive £2000 for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25.
For apprentices aged over 25, organisations receive a £1500 payment. Although this scheme was initially expected to end during the first month of this year, these payments have now been extended for new apprentices hired before 31st March 2021 although organisations still have until the end of April to apply.
Overall, it is expected that the Chancellor will pledge £126 million to invest in traineeships which has been forecast to create 40,000 new placements.
Reacting to this news, Jane Hickie, Chief Executive of Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said:
The extension of the apprenticeship financial incentives until the end of September could be a game-changer and the increase in the incentives should prove to be particularly attractive to smaller businesses who have traditionally offered apprenticeship opportunities to young people.
The Chancellor’s championing of apprenticeships and traineeships throughout the pandemic has been appreciated by employer and training providers facing an extremely challenging environment and the Plan for Jobs puts skills at the heart of a sustainable economic recovery.
These are welcome steps but if we were in the Treasury’s shoes, we would have channeled the increased incentives to focus on 16 to 24 year olds only, because that is where the support is really needed and where the stimulus is required.
Stephen Evans, Chief Executive of Learning and Work, added:
The expansion of traineeships and extra incentives for apprenticeships are welcome and contribute to tackling the rise in unemployment caused by the pandemic.
However, speed is of the essence: the extra traineeships announced last summer are yet to be delivered, so we need an urgent focus on action on the ground. And we need more clarity on how all these initiatives fit together: we have argued for a Youth Guarantee to ensure all young people are offered a job, training place or apprenticeship.
The Plan for Jobs will make a difference, but with unemployment likely to rise further the Government will need to go further, including extending furlough support and Kickstart and keeping the uplift to Universal Credit in place.