Public Sector Apprenticeship Target Consultation Response

by Andrew MacPhee(Linkedin)

The Government’s response (PDF) to the consultation on the public sector apprenticeship target was finally released on 20 January, ten months after the consultation closed. The main outcome is that the proposed 2.3% target on public sector bodies with more than 250 employees will be adopted, and that it will be calculated on the basis of headcount.

The Government also intends to introduce the target from April 2017 (and run annually April – March) to coincide with the introduction of the apprenticeships levy and the Institute for Apprenticeships.

Finally, the target will be an average from 2017/18 – 2020/21 inclusive, instead of being solely an annual target (giving organisations an opportunity to catch up performance in later years, if necessary).

Other points

  • Schools which are maintained by the local authority (LA) and where the LA is also the employer will be included in the relevant LA target. These can be shown separately in the LA’s annual report. Other schools will be treated separately.
  • 71% of respondents said full-time equivalent (FTE) basis should be used as the target basis, but… the Government is sticking with headcount, as FTE would result in needing a higher target to ensure delivery of 3 million new starts by 2020.
  • The target is on the basis of annual starts, not “in-post” apprentices, as this would result in “poor outcomes for apprentices”. And also, the Government’s target wouldn’t get met.
  • However, both new apprentices recruited and existing staff enrolled onto an apprenticeship programme will count against the target.
  • Having “regard” to the target means public sector organisations must actively consider apprenticeships in making workforce planning decisions (both in terms of recruitment and career development).

Annual information returns

  • Regulations will be drafted which will provide more information on reporting arrangements, presumably by March 2017. Exact timings to follow.
  • Relevant bodies must make publicly available their numerical performance against target, but not necessarily their accompanying narrative
  • Numbers and narrative will be emailed annually to the government, by the 30 September following each reporting period (so first report 30 September 2018)

The report will need to cover the elements laid out in the Enterprise Bill, and likely the following:

  • What have your organisation done to hit/make progress towards the target? For example, workforce planning, recruitment, etc.
  • If the target was missed, why?
  • What will your organisation do to make up the numbers? For example, join a Trailblazer group, up the level of existing staff on apprenticeships, etc.
  • From year 2 onwards, cumulative headcount, starts and percentage of starts

Legitimate mitigating reasons for missing your target include:

  • Relevant standards don’t exist
  • Employing a large number of part-time staff
  • Employing a lot of apprentices on programmes that last longer than two years
  • Planning on hitting the target in following years

“[I]f a body cannot show that they have ‘had regard’ to the target [the government] will work with them to see what support is needed to enable them to meet the target in future years.”

Very reassuring.

If you have any questions about the Apprenticeship scheme, please get in touch with our Apprenticeship Advisers on 020 7426 9835.

Require assistance on the Apprenticeship levy? Speak to our Levy experts