As millions of England’s shops and small businesses return to work with a cautious optimism, accessing the best possible workplace training and apprenticeships has never been more vital to the post-Covid business continuity, and the success of England’s two million-plus smaller employers.
That’s why the Apprenticeship Intermediary Service, launched earlier in 2020 by the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR), which offers no-nonsense practical apprenticeship advice, knowledge and support for local enterprise partnerships and hundreds of other smaller business intermediaries across England, is an invaluable resource for small businesses.
The primary objective of the Apprenticeship Intermediary Service – which smaller employers and small business intermediary groups in England can access online at www.apprenticeshipintermediaryservice.co.uk – is to offer a one-stop shop for advice, resources and help on how to best access and easily engage with apprenticeships.
Millions of younger workers returning to the workplace
As the country gradually returns to work, smaller employers across England need to know that they have a wide range of options when it comes to successfully accessing and engaging with apprenticeships.
In particular, workplace-based training and apprenticeships need to work better than ever before for the millions of younger people entering the workforce or navigating the initial years of their careers.
After all, it is the 18-to-24-year-old demographic that has been hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions over the past three months. The number of Britons aged 18 to 24 making claims for unemployment benefits, for example, rocketed by a third throughout the month of May, according to ONS figures.
Hence, it is essential that firms and employers are given as much help, practical advice and resources as possible when it comes to deciding which types of workplace-based training and apprenticeships work best for them and their employees.
Making access to apprenticeships easier than ever before
Breaking down what many smaller employers considered to be obstructive or confusing bureaucracy surrounding establishing apprenticeships is another key objective of the Apprenticeship Intermediary Service, helping to make accessing apprenticeships far less intimidating and much easier.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced his support for younger people who have been hit hard by the Covid crisis, promising to guarantee an apprenticeship to train up and provide jobs for every young person across the country.
That’s a bold move, particularly in the early recovery stage of our post-Covid economy, with countless small firms struggling to stay afloat. Yet it clearly displays the importance the government attaches to workplace apprenticeships and their value to the ongoing growth and success of the UK economy.
Getting younger people excited about apprenticeships
Now, more than ever, there is a vital need to get younger people entering the workforce across England excited and aware of the apprenticeships, skills training and workplace-based training opportunities they can potentially access and benefit from.
This is a key reason why the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR) was contracted by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to deliver the Apprenticeship Intermediary Service to hundreds of intermediary organisations across England.
NSAR recently announced that the Apprenticeship Intermediary Service has already reached almost 700 business intermediary groups across England to date.
Putting smaller employers back in the apprenticeship driving seat
The laudable objective of the NSAR’s Apprenticeship Intermediary Service is the aim to reach more than two million smaller employers across England, helping to put smaller businesses back in the apprenticeship driving seat.
New legislation was introduced in January, prior to the lockdown period, expanding the apprenticeship service online system for all businesses, not just large ones. This allowed employers that do not pay the apprenticeship levy to take much more control over how they engage with and manage apprenticeships, and also prepare smaller employers to access funding through their own apprenticeship service account. This ensures businesses are far more empowered to do the best for their longer-term economic health and profitability, and it strongly encourages the continuation of much higher-quality apprenticeships for millions of young people across the country.
“There are more than two million smaller employers in England who now have more choice and control over the ways in which they engage with apprenticeships and apprenticeships funding,” explains.
“NSAR delivered an intermediary support service from November 2019 to March 2020, taking a ‘one-to-many’ approach in reaching smaller employers to raise the awareness of the changes to apprenticeships. Over that time, we engaged with more than 1,000 individuals from almost 700 business intermediary organisations across England, and worked in partnerships with these organisations to ensure they had the right tools to help them aid their smaller employers in navigating their way through the changes to apprenticeships.”
Importantly, it is these business intermediary groups that play a vital part in reaching the 2.6 million smaller employers across England. As explains, “We’ve already attended, facilitated and delivered more than 150 events across England in collaboration with intermediaries such as local enterprise partnerships, chambers of commerce, combined authorities and sector bodies such as CITB, as well as lots of other local business intermediary groups.”
Smaller employers are encouraged to get involved and register with the online apprenticeship service at www.apprenticeshipintermediaryservice.co.uk, to access all the resources, tools and information they need to get the most out of apprenticeships for their businesses and local business networks.
For more details on the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR), click here.