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Latest Apprenticeship World News

This quick round-up of the latest news in the apprenticeship world looks at calls for financial capability skills to be enhanced as part of off-the-job training and support for small businesses in their plans to recruit apprentices.

Firstly, a new report from Nat West says that policymakers, employers and training providers should all recognise the importance of financial capability and provide this vital life skill for apprentices.

The report, ‘Financial Capability and Young Workers’ reveals that a worrying 44% of apprentices struggle to keep up with bills and other financial commitments, whilst over half of employers (55%) admit to having come across apprentices in financial difficulty,

In fact, the research confirms that managing money is one of the top three concerns for young apprentices, and that nine in ten employers believe they should have a role to play in improving their young employees’ financial management skills and behaviours. Yet it is clear that more needs to be done to make sure the growing apprentice numbers are equipped not only with technical skills, but with essential life skills such as financial capability.

Consequently, the report makes a number of important recommendations, including:

  • Financial capability support, training and education should be delivered across all post-16 settings, via colleges, training providers and universities.
  • Employers should include financial capability training and support as part of their employee induction processes.
  • Financial capability training, support and education should be classified as Job Training and built in to future apprenticeship standards and curriculum.
  • The education select committee should consider including financial capability within the scope of its current review on Apprenticeships.

The chair of this committee, Robert Halfon, supported these points, saying: “Apprenticeships provide a great opportunity for people from all backgrounds to earn as they learn. We must make sure that all young apprentices have the financial capability to take on this responsibility and that they are getting the high-quality training and support they deserve.

This view was further endorsed by Andy Briscoe, Chair of both the Money Advice Service and the FinCap Board (the body charged with developing the UK’s Financial Capability Strategy) who commented: “Just as employers support apprentices to take their first steps on their career path by teaching them the skills to succeed in the workplace, they can also play a critical role in helping apprentices to develop the money management skills that are so important at every stage of life.

Meanwhile, in his Spring Statement, the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that an extra £80 million will be released to help small businesses take on apprentices. This follows criticism that the new apprenticeship levy is too focused on big businesses.

Hammond said: “We recognise the challenges the new system presents to some small business looking to employ an apprentice. I can therefore announce that the education secretary will release up to £80 million of funding to support small businesses in engaging apprentices.

This welcome boost to small businesses will come from the DfE apprenticeship budget and is funding awarded to providers in order to deliver training to businesses that don’t pay the apprenticeship levy.

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