The Apprenticeship Service for Employers - an introduction
At a glance
Employers who wish to claim the new financial incentives for employing an apprentice must create an Apprenticeship Service account and enrol their apprentice through this. Creating an account is incredibly simple and takes a matter of seconds. This article provides further guidance on setting up the account and claiming the financial incentives. It also provides some screenshots to show what your apprenticeship service homepage will look like.
What is the Apprenticeship Service?
The apprenticeship service was created back in 2017 when the government first introduced the Apprenticeship Levy for employers whose payroll bill was more than £3million/year. The service enabled these employers to access their levy funds and ‘buy’ apprenticeship training from training providers using those funds.
Fast forward to January 2020 and the Apprenticeship Service was made available to all employers who have a payroll account with HMRC. Why?
Government policy on apprenticeships is to try and create a programme where employers have as much control as possible. This is reflected in the creation of the new Apprenticeship standards where the ‘curriculum’ is effectively entirely developed by groups of employers who understand the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for particular professions, occupations and trades. However the government is also trying to place more control of funding into employers’ hands as well. For levy-payers this was an essential part of the creation of the levy. If employers are going to have to pay the levy, of course they should have control over how their levy is spent.
The rest of the apprenticeship ‘budget’ was shared out among training providers as a contractual ‘allocation’ which meant an employer had to approach a training provider to ask for a programme and hope that training provider had funding left available to deliver it.
Opening up the apprenticeship service to employers means they get to determine where they spend the money and providers who deliver a quality service and get more business from employers will naturally benefit from increasing funding whilst those offering a poorer service will lose out.
In practice, it is fair to say that initially there was some resistance to switching over to the new system. Employers and training providers were both nervous about the added bureaucracy created for employers by asking them to use the new system. In retrospect, this fear was unfounded and the service has been designed so that almost all the admin work involved can be handed over to the training provider and the employer really only has to fill out a few fields on a form and click on a few buttons. It genuinely is a matter of seconds.
In August this year the government created a very powerful incentive for employers to adopt the new service because this is the only way employers can access the new financial incentives the government has created for employers employing a new apprentice between August 2020 and January 2021. You can read more about these here:
- Financial incentives for employing apprentices
- Kickstart Scheme versus apprenticeships - which works best for employers?
So how does it work?
Using the new Apprenticeship service is incredibly straightforward - we’ll do almost all of the work for you.
Employers can continue to work with us exactly as they always have done. The difference in procedures will be obvious but it’s simple and straightforward.
The first step is to create an account. You will be prompted to do this in an email you receive from the Apprenticeship Service which is triggered by us. Just read the instructions on screen and follow the steps required. You can create the Apprenticeship Service account using the Government Gateway details you use for your organisation OR by providing 2 key pieces of information relating to your HMRC employer account. These are:
- HMRC Employer PAYE reference
- HMRC Accounts Office reference
As part of the process you will also be asked to:
- Sign an agreement for use of the service
- Set permissions to allow Boom Training to:
- Create cohorts (add apprentices on your behalf to save you admin time)
- Recruit apprentices (allow us to advertise your vacancy/ies and handle applications on your behalf)
Please select yes to both of these to enable us to do all the admin for you!
Once the account is created we will then be able to add all of the apprentice’s details (step 2). Once we have done so, you will receive an email asking you to sign-in and confirm your approval for the enrolment.
And that’s it!
Claiming the Covid-19 financial incentive
This guidance refers to the £2,000 for a 16-24 year old and £1,500 for a 25 year old announced by Rishi Sunak in July. The £1,000 for a 16-18 year old continues to be paid through the training provider as before.
The headline image for this article and the section below show some screenshots of what your Apprenticeship Service home page will look like. In the second section: ‘Finances’ you will see ‘Apply for the hire a new apprentice payment’. Simply click on this and follow the instructions. NOTE: you will need to have your bank details to hand when you do so.
The incentives are paid in two instalments. These instalments become ‘due’ when the apprentice completes their 90th and 365th days of their apprenticeship. Exact payment dates haven’t been given but we expect them to be made to employers on or around the 20th day of the month following the month in which they become ‘due’. (The funding agency has said that first instalment payments for apprentices who started in August and September will be made in January.)
Sneak preview screenshots!
Under the main heading, there are three sections. As you can see, the descriptions of what each section is for are pretty self-explanatory:
In partnership with: