George Swann details some of the information and revenue sources waiting to be tapped into by FIS members.

Despite the stream of initiatives and services generated by FIS to assist members wishing to access funded training, many still seem daunted by the apparent administration hurdles that appear greater than they actually are, or remain unaware of the opportunities that exist.

Local Enterprise Partnership funding,CITB grants and National Insurance breaks for employers of apprentices under 25 are all waiting to be tapped into.

If you are an employer based in England and looking to take on an apprentice, there are now apprenticeships for two finishes and interiors occupations with a total of four options: Plasterer (with options for solid plastering and fibrous plastering) and Interior Systems installer (with options for drylining systems and suspended ceiling and partitioning systems).

The English apprenticeship system has changed and as an employer you will be required to be involved in the training and testing of your apprentices. The Richards Review of 2012 recommended ‘putting the employers in the driving seat’. This is an outline of some areas where your involvement will assist in ensuring a unified approach between you, your apprentice, your chosen training provider and your chosen end point assessment organisation.

The English Apprenticeship is based on a trained and tested outcome, just like the UK Driving Licence system. Your apprentice will be trained in every skill, knowledge and behaviour listed in the apprenticeship standard, for the chosen option, by an organisation, registered on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers, that you chose. At the end of the training, your apprentice will be tested in accordance with the assessment plan by an assessor or tester that has had nothing to do with the training delivered. As the employer, you can stipulate which end point assessment organisation your apprentice will be tested by.

The employer will be responsible for or be required to be involved in all of the following.

Selection recruitment and funding support
It must be noted there is no age limit for an English apprentice. Local training providers and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) will be able to help you select individuals identified as suitable for your organisation. Visit the CITB website’s ‘courses and qualifications’ section for more information about this.

There are specific CITB grants to support ‘in scope’ smaller construction employers with start-up costs when taking on a new apprentice, £500 per apprentice and further CITB grant funding can be claimed for each year the apprentice is in training, £2,500 and on achievement £3,500 or for Interior Systems Installer £8,500 and Plasterer £11,000.

The government provides details on savings that can be made in National Insurance contributions for apprentices under 25 years on its website and your Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) may be able to assist with recruitment and funding, so be sure to interrogate the web pages of the LEP nearest to you.

One example is the Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) web page where a new web portal is now available so that all employers can go online, request or share funding and plan their current and future apprenticeship requirements.

FIS will be happy to provide more information, advice and guidance. We may also be able to directly assist in the selection and recruitment of apprentices via the Fit-Out Futures programme. Pleasecontact FIS directly.

Contributing to thecost of training
Employers not paying the Apprenticeship Levy are required to pay 10% of the total cost of training in advance to the chosen provider. This equates to £58.34 per month for an interior systems installer and £27.78 per month for a plasterer, which can be reduced by securing the funding detailed above. However, there is enhanced or additional government funding available for people under the age of 18 and for those employed by organisations with fewer than 50 employees, micro and small organisations. Any additional training not listed in the standard must also be paid for by the employer.

Extract from the guide
We will ask you to make a 10% contribution to the cost of apprenticeship training and government will pay the remaining 90% up to a maximum amount of funding allowed for the apprenticeship you have chosen. You will have to meet, in full, any cost (including for end-point assessment) which is above the funding band maximum. You will pay your contribution to your training provider over the lifetime of the apprenticeship.

Identifying, sourcing andengaging a training provider
Look for providers who offer an initial programme, up to three weeks that will ensure your apprentice is ‘site ready’. The programme should include, but not be limited to; health, safety and welfare, manual handling, an introduction to the occupation and the wider construction industry and acquisition of the CSCS red apprentice card.

It is strongly advised to decline the green labourer’s card, if offered. Being site ready will ensure the apprentice can be employed to support your contracts.

Delivering training inthe workplace
The English apprenticeship requires a minimum of 20% off the job training (OJT). Based upon a working year of 233 days this is 46.6 days. It is expected some of this training will be provided in the employer’s premises and it would be prudent to assign a mentor or mentors to your apprentice. Ask the training provider what subject(s) need to be delivered in the workplace. At the early point of the programme virtually everything the apprentice does could be considered as training e.g. organisational policies and procedures, workplace and site induction.

This will diminish as the apprentice gains skills, knowledge and experience.

Ensuring the apprentice stays on programme and progresses
The providers programme will be based upon the skills, knowledge and behaviours listed in the Apprenticeship Standard. It is worth comparing the Training Providers Programme with the standard prior to engagement. Ensure you communicate with your chosen training provider. There is an example ‘Tri-Training Agreement’  available on the FIS website.

Engaging an End point Assessment Organisation
Your chosen provider can help you with this. When you deem the apprentice is consistently working at or above the level set out in the occupational standard then the apprentice may be registered for the end point assessment. You may take advice from the training provider(s), but the decision must ultimately be made solely by the employer. The apprentice must have completed all the Gateway requirements as detailed in the assessment plan before the end point assessment can be attempted.

As the employer you are always ultimately responsible for the individuals in your employ while at work and in training. This responsibility does not diminish with an apprentice, your investment in the individual will be realised only on their successful completion of training and by passing the end point assessment. Your responsibility continues through every phase of the training and testing e.g. administration, welfare, salary, work transport,  accommodation, tools, equipment including PPE etc.

Congratulate your apprentice and celebrate their and your organisations success.

Please ensure you claim all CITB grants and other funding that may be available to your organisation.

Although this may seem a lot of trouble, increased work for you and your organisation, with the right apprentice it is without doubt the most effective, efficient and economical way of contributing to the succession planning of your workforce. As many have said before, the employees are an organisation’s greatest asset.

FIS is happy to support you with any queries relating to the items discussed in this feature. For help and assistance please contact FIS on 01217 070077 or