Apprenticeships made easier for London businesses


Companies that contract directly with the government on training will face less red tape

London’s employers will find it easier to take on apprentices, thanks to new measures announced by skills minister John Hayes at a CBI summit yesterday.

Hayes said businesses that contract directly with the government to train apprentices will now benefit from simplified payment and streamlined contracts, reporting and assessment requirements.

London and other UK businesses will also receive better guidance to help them manage the recruitment, training and assessment of apprentices more efficiently and cost effectively.

Apprenticeships have been heralded by business secretary Vince Cable as a proven way to fill skills gaps in our economy. “They are proving an increasingly effective training route for young people and companies,” he said.

The London business community has welcomed the news. Susan Anderson, the CBI’s director for education and skills policy, said:

“Cutting bureaucracy will support even more businesses to become involved and these recommendations set out the right path for reform.

“They recognise that employers are primarily concerned with the day-to-day running of their businesses, and that they are committed to offering high-quality training as their reputation and business success depends on this.”

Measures for cutting red tape for employers include:

  • A pilot for over 20 large employers that have volunteered to trial “payment by outcomes”, which will eliminate a number of data returns and audit requirements.
  • Providing an online plain-English toolkit for employers that clearly explain the end-to-end processes employers need to undertake for apprenticeships.
  • Streamlining contracting arrangements.
  • A commitment to no “in year” changes to contracting arrangements.
  • A more proportionate approach to audit and inspection, reducing preparation time for employers.
  • Greater use of electronic information, thus reducing paperwork.
  • A more streamlined certification process.

British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said: “The existing apprenticeship system is too difficult to navigate and a major administrative burden. A requirement to send hard-copy documents by post cannot be justified in this internet age, for example.

“This package of measures is a very welcome effort to put that right. Simplifying the system should make the process easier for businesses and ensure more apprenticeship opportunities are created. The priority now must be to put these plans into action swiftly.”