Colleges and training providers say employers should pay towards apprentice training programmes.

A survey conducted by Lsect asked if employers should continue to be allowed to contribute nothing towards the training for their apprentices.

Nearly three quarters of the people who replied – 73 per cent – said the employer should pay something towards training their employees.

Fiona Davis, funding and registry manager at Boston College, said: “Some employers are seen as using apprentices for cheap labour and this will only increase if the employer no longer has to make a financial contribution to the training.”

She said that a small contribution from the employee may make them more likely to complete a course, but if the apprentice is on minimum wage to expect them to fund the apprenticeship is unaffordable.

Funding for apprenticeship training has been a source of controversy following the government’s further education reform programme.

The employer is expected to make a 50 per cent contribution to the fees but they are currently allowed to make no contribution at all.

This means that in some cases the learner will be expected to fund their own training.

Apprentices over the age of 24 are going to be charged for studying their first level 3 qualification and loans will be offered to those who cannot afford to pay fees upfront.

The maximum loan that can be taken for studying is £4,000 but there is no limit to what colleges can charge for the qualifications.

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11 Comments

  1. Shane Chowen

    It’s true as well isn’t it that for the first year of an apprenticeship you’re exempt from the national minimam wage and can be legally paid the apprentice minimum wage of £2.60 an hour if you’re over 19?

    • Geoffrey

      I work for a College and we rarely charge employers for one simple reason. There are roughly 10-15 Colleges nearby who are genuine competitors for employer business and most of those don’t charge.

      You can argue all you like about quality, but if we are charging £x and our competitor down the road is charging nothing, the employers will all go to the same place and its not us.

      This situation is made worse by NAS – they actively inform employers which Colleges aren’t charging.

      We have tried to come to an agreement with others in the area to agree on a minumum price threshold, but we have to be careful as this could be seen as ‘anti-competitive’. Local SFA have discussed the issue with us, but can’t (or won’t) do anything.

        • Catherine

          We don’t get paid enough to deliver without charging but as Jon stated, we don’t charge as the employer will go elsewhere. We have to do what we can. If we don’t spend our contract then we get less funding the following year. Every training provider/college is in the same boat especially with MCL being introduced. The SFA need to get a back bone and make the contribution mandatory. It will be difficult at first but the employers will get used to it. Why should training providers/colleges subsidise upskilling the local businesses? Companies have training budgets to enhance their staff’s skills, why shouldn’t we receive some of that money for providing them with a service. They have no qualms about paying Microsoft for courses for example. Companies should get used to paying us too.

  2. Sheila Turnbull

    I totally disagree with employers having to pay. We take on in the region of 4-8 apprentices a year and our course – Advanced Apprenticeship for the Children and Young Peoples Workforce can take up to 18 months to deliver. They get work based training from graduates who have followed the same career path. I dumped a recent training provider who contacted them every 3-6 months or so to see how they were doing and to arrange an observation. They got the funding not us who are providing the training!!!! The government should split it between training institution and assessors.

  3. lindsay mccurdy

    Any provider that is offering apprenticeship qualification by contacting apprentices every 3 -6 and then doing an observation should be named and shamed. Training should be every one day a week in the work place or the training centre this should be a min requirement of any apprenticeship.

    The whole contribution from employers is a mess, even the SFA when given funding to the supermarket chain for apprenticeships for staff is I believe not asking for any contributions for 19s.

  4. lindsay mccurdy

    At present only between 8% – 20% of businesses are involved in apprenticeships, and if you take away the providers who are offering apprentices free to businesses, take away the short term apprenticeships being offered 10, 12 weeks etc ,with no training, little contact with the business . All this would suggest that businesses to do not have a lot of faith in apprenticeships, we should be working on the service and quality of apprenticeships perhaps then we would be in a position to think about charging businesses.

  5. The whole apprenticeship brand has been totally tarnished, We have a National Apprenticehip Service who in some cases are promoting a 12 week apprenticeship, and we wonder why employers are reluctant to pay!! The Skills Funding Agency is giving millions of pounds to supermarket chains to “train” its staff as adult apprentices, without insisting on any contribution. The truth is the brand and concept of apprenticships have been destroyed by the organisations who should have been promoting them in the first place.
    Statistical Targets have alot to answer for!!

  6. Introduce a national training levy on employers. They’ll squeal like they did over the minimum wage but will survive. The UK has a poor history of investing in training, and this is simply another way in which ordinary folk subsidise corporate benefit through their taxes. Asda, Morrisons, RBS … Time for change … We need a Fund Training Campaign, including a campaign to get it made a European directive.