The Government intends to place an apprenticeship target on public bodies, meaning that a certain level of new apprentices must be taken on by these bodies each year. Plans are not confirmed at this stage because the Government has not yet laid down any Regulations. For now, therefore, the following information merely represents Government proposals.
The duty requires a minimum of number of ‘apprenticeship starts’ each year in the public body calculated as a percentage of overall headcount in that body rather than looking at how many apprentices are working in the public body on a given day. The minimum percentage is 2.3% in each year. For example, a local authority with 1000 employees will need to take on 23 apprentices in that year. If its headcount falls to 900 the following year, it would need to take on 21 apprentices that year etc.
Generally, the scope of the duty covers public bodies in England with 250 or more employees. However, group bodies may be affected slightly differently.
Schools which are maintained by a Local Authority (LA) and where the LA is also the employer are expected to be covered by the duty but included in their own local government target. They would therefore not be expected to cover the whole target themselves but any apprentices they take on would count towards their LA’s target.
Other schools such as free schools, foundation schools, voluntary-aided and academies/trusts with 250 or more employees will be covered by the duty.
Affected public bodies will need to publish information on their progress towards meeting the apprenticeship target annually. Additional information will also need to be published and sent to the Secretary of State to understand more about the recruitment and retention of apprentices. The required information will be e.g. the number of employees whose employment began in that reporting period; the number of apprentices who began to work in that reporting period etc. Another set of information is required to be sent to the Secretary of State but not published e.g. information about action taken to meet the apprenticeship target etc.
Achievements against the target will need to be reported on for each target period. Proposed target periods are as follows:
• Date the duty comes into force until 31st March 2017;
• 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018;
• 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2019;
• 1st April 2019 to 31st March 2020.
There is currently no date set for the implementation of the apprenticeship target, and there remains a significant amount of steps to be taken by the Government before it can be implemented.
Education Business Partner, Hussain Ahmed, says: “Apprenticeships are clearly high on the agenda for the Government and it is easy to see why: the Government are committed to providing job opportunities to young people so that they do not add to the countries’ unemployed numbers. The Apprenticeship Levy, from April 2017, is another example of the commitment”