Like all our partners, we are really proud of what our apprentices are achieving but we also know that, right now, they may not be your priority as an employer. With Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s recent statement emphasising the government’s financial backing for apprenticeships and traineeships and their overall importance to the country’s Post-COVID economic recovery, now is the time, more than ever, to get behind your apprentices.
Our advice is simple: if you have apprentices, don’t overlook them now - and not just because of what you have already invested in them.
Having the right people, with energy and the right skills, will be vital to your long-term business success. More immediately, it will help your business emerge from the effects of the pandemic – and there is support available.
On its COVID-19 webpages the Government says: “High-quality apprenticeships will be a vital contributor to the economic recovery that will follow the pandemic” and it has set up help for employers involved in apprenticeship programmes.
Currently, under Government Job Retention Scheme guidance, apprentices can be furloughed, so, as an employer, you can claim 80% of their salary as well as associated employer NI and pension contributions - just like you would with other employees (with the same condition that they mustn’t do any work for your business). If apprentices are on minimum wage you are expected to make up the difference.
We know that many of our partner employers are already making the most of the furloughing option to make sure their apprentices are available to help get their businesses back on their feet. You can check if you can claim for your employees’ wages here – the furloughing option is currently available to the end of October.
The good thing about the Job Retention Scheme for employers with apprentices is that it takes a realistic approach and gives you flexibility. As well as paying 80% of the apprentice’s wage, it actually allows the apprentice to continue their off the job training, as long as you follow the guidelines (there are details here).
So, whether it’s through our distance learning programme or programmes from other providers, it means your apprentice needs less time off the job when they return to work and can make an even greater contribution to your business recovery when they return. It also helps the apprentices because being able to carry on with their studies helps to structure their time away from work and can motivate them during what is a hard time for everyone.
The government scheme also allows all furloughed employees to start new apprenticeships as long as they follow the golden rule about not providing services to your business or generating income.
Another really useful part of the scheme means that you can temporarily redeploy apprentices without ending their apprenticeship (for apprentices, it means they can take a break from their learning, or change the way they planned to do their learning or assessment to reflect the challenges presented by social distancing, even if they are put on furlough by you).
Our fantastic distance learning courses have dedicated content and resources such as videos, blogs and interactive learning material and are designed to complement the furloughing option described here. However, they are available so that your apprentices can continue to learn and upskill even if they are still in work.
Lastly, current government information on apprentice support can be seen here and you should keep checking back for updates, while The Greater Merseyside Learners Provider Federation has produced a handy fact sheet on furloughing apprentices here.
We know that keeping hold of your apprentices wherever possible makes sense – not just for their sake, but for yours too. That’s why we’re encouraging you to use the help available from government and supporting the ‘Don’t Wash Your Hands of Your Apprentices’ campaign launched by the Greater Merseyside Learning Providers Federation.
As the Job Retention Scheme winds down with the end of October drawing near, it will and has already become clear that many apprentices and employees have been unfortunate in recent weeks and months and are looking for new opportunities. Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s recent statement (as mentioned above), offering financial support to employers to hire apprentices and to support traineeships, has been welcomed.
If you are interested in hiring an apprentice or supporting traineeships or would like to learn more about accessing funding, please contact us on 0300 123 8088 or email email@example.com.