ESFA opens apprenticeship service to all employers

Every apprenticeship employer in England will soon have access to the full benefits of the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s (ESFA) apprenticeship service.

The first employers and providers will begin using the service in the summer.

Currently, only apprenticeship levy-paying employers—those with an annual total pay bill of more than £3 million, or those in receipt of a transfer of apprenticeship funds—are able to fully benefit from the apprenticeship service.

Over the course of the next year, all employers will be able to control how they pay for their apprenticeship training, and assess and recruit their apprentices. They will also have access to a larger pool of training providers to deliver more relevant training for them.

Eileen Milner, chief executive of ESFA, said: “Moving non-levy employers onto the apprenticeship service will give small and medium sized businesses a greater choice of quality training providers, and the opportunity to have more control over apprenticeship training decisions for their business.”

“Employers understand the needs of their sector and know better than anyone about how best to use their apprenticeship funding.

“By working with smaller employers, the ESFA will get insight into the skills needs of a wider range of businesses which will help us to remove barriers employers have when recruiting an apprentice.”

During the transition period, the ESFA will continue to run contracts with providers who have won provision through ESFA procurements for apprenticeship starts with non-levy employers.

The contracts will provide stability and access to training in the marketplace to ensure a gradual and managed transition to the apprenticeship service. This will give the ESFA time to create the right service functionality to meet employer needs.

Moving employers who don’t pay the levy onto the apprenticeship service will give them access to training providers who have successfully entered the register of apprenticeship training providers, not just those who were successful in previous procurements.

Through the apprenticeship service, employers can:

  • Manage their apprenticeship funding
  • Select a suitable apprenticeship standard or framework and an end point assessment organisation
  • Advertise an apprenticeship and select a suitable provider to deliver their apprenticeship training
  • Give real-time feedback on the quality of training provision they receive
  • Have control over the amount of apprenticeship funding paid to their training provider on their behalf, so there is better intelligence to maximise their apprenticeship training spend
  • Provide government with apprenticeship demand data to ensure a valuable apprenticeship marketplace
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