‘Apprentice premium’ vital to ensure training standards remain high

An ‘Apprentice Premium’ plan has been proposed by the Learning and Work Institute (LWI) to help the disadvantaged.

The institute, a charity that promotes broader access to high quality training for all, has today come out with a proposal for a apprentice premium, a similar concept to the ‘pupil premium’ brought in for school children ten years ago.

The LWI plan sets out a new funding structure, to sit alongside the Apprentice Levy, which would ensure that additional funding supports high quality training for disadvantaged young people. It also calls for full funding for young people who choose an apprenticeship, in the same way that students choosing an academic or vocational pathway would receive.

The current funding regime presents a set of risks, including reducing the incentive for providers and/or employers to recruit 16-18 year old apprentices or work in disadvantaged areas, it believes; and could lead to a reduction in both price and quality, particularly in sectors without a long history of apprenticeships and lower levels of productivity; and exacerbate rather than ameliorate current inequalities in access to apprenticeships.


‘Extending funding to deprived areas’

Given these concerns, the institute has proposed an apprentice premium: “[Which] would be an additional amount paid to employers and providers recruiting apprentices with particular characteristics. This should start with 16-18 year-olds and be higher than the current £1,000 proposed. It could be extended to apprentices from deprived areas or in priority sectors and occupations in line with industrial strategy, and topped up by devolved cities and local areas in accordance with local priorities.

“The Apprenticeship Levy has been recognised universally as a ‘game-changer’ but we believe that more needs to be done to make sure that investment in apprenticeships delivers the very best experience for apprentices and value for money for employers and tax payers,” Stephen Evans, Learning and Work Institute’s Chief Executive said.

“We’ve set out today how the funding system can best promote and incentivise high quality. We think it’s wrong that an apprentice’s experience can be negotiated on price, rather than quality, so we’ve set out today how the Government can change that.

“Growth in apprenticeships marks an exciting turning point in our education system and the choices available to young people and adults in accessing training. That’s why it’s so important we get this right.“

In addition to the premium, the Institute also calls for more work to develop flexible funding rates. “[These] rates should not be set in stone, but agreed through a collaborative approach with employers and providers so they support high quality apprenticeships and value for money for taxpayers.”

The full briefing paper can be found here.