An encouraging path for building back better skills, better flexibility, and better jobs

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, delivered his ‘Budget 2021 – Protecting the jobs and livelihoods of the British people’to Parliament on 3 March 2021, setting out his three-point plan for helping the economy recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Building on the government’s previous commitments outlined in July 2020’s ‘Plan for Jobs’ and January’s Skills for Jobs White Paper’, the further package of support for jobs is a welcome pledge to helping people of all ages search for work and build the skills they need to open up new job opportunities.

John Clark, our Head of Awards and Assurance Services said: “The focus on supporting jobs and skills growth within this budget continues the government’s previous commitments to a high quality educational experience for all learners, tackling skills gaps, supporting job search processes, creating new jobs, and boosting higher skills attainment. All of which should lead to improved economic performance and delivery opportunities for the country in the future.”

There is no doubting that our nation’s young people have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, and the £2 billion Kickstart scheme, introduced in August last year, has so far created 120,000 Kickstart vacancies, helping to provide young people at risk of long-term unemployment with fully-subsidised jobs to give them experience and skills. The funding, which covers 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, per job, has helped many employers from across our sectors fill roles, with their bids to take part already approved.

New payments made available to employers from the 1 August 2020 to 31 March 2021, providing £2,000 for each new apprentice hired aged under 25, and £1,500 payment for each new apprentice hired aged 25 and over, has helped facilitate the recovery of apprenticeships on a national scale. This has now been extended for another six months, so that any employers who hire a new apprentice between 1 April 2021 and 30 September 2021 will receive £3,000 per new hire, regardless of the apprentice’s age. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government already provides for new 16-18-year-old apprentices, and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan.

John added: “The additional support made available for employers who take on an apprentice between April and September is a welcome boost for employers who want to recruit as the economy and their businesses recover, as well as for individuals whose careers may have been stalled as a result of the pandemic.

In our sectors that have been badly impacted by the pandemic, like the spectator events sector, where the road map out of lockdown is now keenly being considered, there is much to be pleased about in this budget, not just in terms of continued access to furlough provision and business loans, but this added support for re-invigorating the workforce.”

The government has also made available an additional £126 million in 2020-21 to fund high quality work placements and training for 16-24-year olds in England. This funding is enough to enable 40,000 more traineeships. A landmark incentive to employers who provide trainees with work experience, at a rate of £1,000 per trainee, will help ensure that more young people have access to high quality training. This includes expanding eligibility for traineeships to those with Level 3 qualifications and below.

A new ‘portable’ apprenticeship programme will allow people to work for a number of different employers in the same sector. From July, employers will be able to bid for money from a £7million fund to create new agencies, with the first “flexi-job” apprenticeships expected to start in January 2022.

Candace Miller, our Managing Director said: “This comprehensive package of support aimed at helping people of all ages develop and build the skills needed to open up new job opportunities is very encouraging. For the first time ever, the government is funding employers who provide trainees with work experience, and the use of portable apprenticeships will provide employers with access to valuable and diverse apprenticeship talent which will help aid economic recovery.

“There are many exciting roles available within the sectors we at SFJ Awards are proud to serve. With these welcome measures for ensuring apprenticeship programmes become a more significant and well regarded entry route to rewarding careers, the future is looking brighter for sustaining quality pathways into great jobs.”

Get in touch with our team today, to discuss how we can support you to meet both your current and future skills development needs.

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