It was encouraging to see a healthy turnout of training providers, contractors, suppliers and assessors at the launch of the New Interior Systems Installer Apprenticeship Standard. In the room we had a coalition of the willing and recognition that this is a huge opportunity not just to refresh a qualification for England, but to reset and focus again on how we can work together, not just to grow the number of apprentices in the sector, but to renew our efforts to strengthen the training network, improve support and attract the right people to work in this critical part of construction industry.

The FIS ApprENTICE programme exists to support employers in taking on apprentices and below we look at some of the common questions that crop up when we talk to employers about funding for and recruitment of apprenticeships:

What is the difference between the Apprentice Levy and the CITB Levy?
Only employers that pay more than £3m in wages are liable to pay the apprenticeship levy. Levy-paying employers contribute 0.5 per cent of their pay bill into a fund each month, which can be reinvested and utilised in apprenticeship training for your business. And for every £1 contributed, the government adds 10p. If an employer does not pay the levy the government will still fund 90 per cent of the cost of your apprenticeship training. Employer is expected to pay any excess, above funding, to the fees charged by Training Providers.

The CITB Levy is used to encourage training, in the case of apprenticeships, it is not and has never been used to pay for training apprentices. The CITB levy instead supports employers with the additional costs associated with apprentices.

So if the training is covered by the Government, what CITB grants am I entitled to when I take on an apprentice?
The CITB grants are reviewed each year, up to April 2020 you are entitled to claim the CITB annual attendance grant meaning each year you can claim £2500 per apprentice.

Secondly you can also claim the CITB Achievement Grant of £600 on completion of the apprenticeship standard. For a two-year apprenticeship that’s a minimum of £5600. If the evidence used to complete an English apprenticeship, where a vocational qualification is not included, is assessed under the vocational qualification and the candidate successfully completes the work
there is a further £600 per qualification available. CITB grant for up to four vocational qualifications can be claimed in one lifetime.

The CITB has recently offered £500 to small employers who either pay no levy, or pay the reduced rate of levy, for every apprentice that has started college or with another training provider, from 1 August 2019. (Subject to the eligibility criteria) Finally, you can still claim up to £10,250 in CITB grants as CITB Levy payers over three years to help cover the costs of taking on
an apprentice.

I have a vacancy for an apprenticeship but get little response back? How can you help me attract an apprentice?
You can speak with your local college at the start of the academic year and present your opportunity to them, but this will only account for a small pool of people. You must widen your opportunity coverage. The FIS skills team will guide you through widescale advertising and application attraction, but here are some easy steers for you to follow.
• Design your apprenticeship job specification and general apprenticeship vacancy advert for distribution.
• All apprenticeship opportunities must appear on the government apprenticeship website.
• To upload your apprenticeship opportunity to the UK government website you must complete a AVOL (Apprentice Vacancy On Line) template and send to CITB for upload.
• Maximise coverage by uploading your apprenticeship vacancy to FIS Job Spot.

The FIS will lead a digital social media recruitment campaign additionally across all our digital platforms.
• Ensure the vacancy appears in your own website and social media channels where applicable.

Bear in mind if your head office is in a different region to the contract that requires apprentices, you should advertise in the site zones. For example, if you are based in Oxford and your contract sites are in central London, it will be very difficult to get an apprentice to site via public transport for a 7.30am start time from Oxford.

It is important to note that apprenticeship schemes and frameworks are different in each Nation of the UK and in some cases there may be funding available to employers
from Local Enterprise Partnerships.

If you are interested in taking on an apprentice, call the FIS Skills Team on 0121 707 0077.

By Amanda Scott, FIS sector skills engagement manager