Businesses have told us that they are struggling to attract and retain skilled staff, particularly young people and graduates. One method of meeting this need is to recruit apprentices.

The Government have produced a handy technical guide, How To Take on an Apprentice which takes businesses through the process.

Credit: Open Government Licence

The Apprenticeship Levy

Employers with a pay bill of more than £3 million per annum have, since April 6 2017 been subject to an apprenticeship levy. The levy is 0.5% of the annual pay bill, calculated automatically by HMRC.

Every company has an allowance of £15,000 they can offset against the levy. An example of this would be if the annual pay bill is £3m, a levy of £15,000 is payable. The allowance is offset against this so the annual levy payment would be zero.

The levy can be used to pay for training and development apprenticeship programmes for existing employees, as well as new ones. The government will also top up the allowance by 10%, and if you spend your full allowance (or don’t pay anything in the first instance) you will pay 10% towards to the cost of apprenticeship training and the government will pay the remaining 90%.

The Department for Education have offered further guidance at this link.

Local Apprenticeship Training Providers

Oxfordshire Apprenticeships

Oxfordshire County Council have a dedicated website – Oxfordshire Apprenticeships – for businesses, employers, parents and potential apprentices. The website also contains information to help businesses gain a better understanding of how apprenticeships work, the cost, and where to start.

The national apprenticeship website is also a valuable resource for businesses, which includes a vacancies database.

Abingdon and Witney College business support

Abingdon and Witney college have put together a Employer’s Guide to Apprenticeships, which can be downloaded here.

Their website also contains information for employers and a searchable database of apprenticeship vacancies they have to offer, click here to visit the Abingdon and Witney College website.

UTC Oxfordshire

Based in Harwell, Didcot. UTC Oxfordshire is an innovative new approach to learning for 14-19 year olds that offers specialist programmes alongside a core curriculum.

A UTC is different from an average school because it has support and backing from the local business community and has high profile industry partners involved in the development of the curriculum. One or more universities are involved to make sure that the UTC really can offer students the best of both worlds.

UTCs are for students aged 14 to 19, as this is the age when they’ll have a better idea of what they are really interested in and whether they would enjoy learning in high-tech surroundings. At 14, students are likely to be ready to study in a real-world environment, where they can gain the practical experience and develop the skills that would lead them into work or university.

UTC Oxfordshire is associated with The Baker Dearing Educational Trust and UTColleges which promotes this new model of technical schooling. The work of technicians and other highly skilled vocationally qualified people is vital to our economy.

Oxford Advanced Skills

The Oxford Advanced Skills training centre enables Oxfordshire businesses to offer young people hi-tech and engineering apprenticeships of the highest quality.

It offers unique benefits for employers, apprentices and the local economy in one of the most thriving areas for science and technology in the UK.

Located at Culham Science Centre, the home of the UK’s fusion energy research programme, Oxford Advanced Skills is a partnership between the UK Atomic Energy Authority and the Science & Technology Facilities Council. The centre is managed by leading apprentice training provider JTL, which works with 6,000 learners and 3,500 employers across England and Wales.

Oxford Advanced Skills is now open and took its first intake of apprentices in September 2016. Eventually the centre will train 125 young people per year in a purpose-built training facility at Culham.

SO Business has been supported by our very own apprentice based in the economic development team of the council.  Kate Gee joined the team in September 2015 as an Administration Assistant. Kate explained why she decided to enroll in the apprenticeship scheme.

Kate Gee (2)She said: “I chose to do an apprenticeship because you gain experience and knowledge from the working environment and learn new skills that you wouldn’t necessarily gain from doing a qualification at college.

“I hope to gain both NVQ 2 and 3 in Business Administration, and life skills from working in an office environment.”

South Oxfordshire District Council have updated their recruitment procedures so that when a department has a job vacancy, they will be asked if they have considered whether the vacant role could be suitable for an apprenticeship. The council has taken on five apprentices in various positions over the last few years.