Bidding opens for flexible apprenticeship funding

The first apprenticeships organised through flexi-job apprenticeship agencies are expected to start in early 2022

Julia Belgutay

The first sectors can now bid for part of the new flexible apprenticeship funding

The first sectors are now able bid for a share of a £7 million fund to support the creation of new flexible apprenticeships, the government has announced.

The industries to benefit will be creative, agriculture and construction, and the government said the move will unlock more opportunities for people to develop the skills they need to get good jobs.

The government said the fund would establish a small number of agencies that would set up new flexi-job apprenticeships so an apprentice can work across a range of projects and with different employers to gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to be occupationally competent.

Apprenticeships are at least 12 months long, and some sectors with flexible employment patterns and short-term roles – such as digital, adult social care, transport and manufacturing – have found it challenging to set up opportunities.

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Today’s announcement comes ahead of the start later this month of the ScreenSkills pilot for apprenticeships in the film and TV industry, with Netflix and WarnerMedia. Supported by a £100,000 investment from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, this pioneering programme has been designed to help better facilitate and boost apprenticeships in the UK’s booming screen industries.

The rise of flexible apprenticeships

The first apprenticeships organised through flexi-job apprenticeship agencies are expected to start in early 2022.

Apprenticeships and skills minister Gillian Keegan said: “We want to build an apprenticeship system that enables everyone to get the experience and knowledge they require to get the job they want, while ensuring employers have a diverse talent pipeline to meet their skills needs.

“Our flexi-job apprenticeships will unleash exciting new opportunities in sectors such as the creative industries and construction, where employment is increasingly flexible and project-based, while also helping larger organisations to grow starts in their supply chains, levelling up chances for people to build the life they want.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “I’m thrilled that apprentices and employers in freelance industries such as film and TV can start to benefit from our new flexi-job apprenticeship scheme as part of our Plan for Jobs. Together, we’re creating exciting new opportunities for apprentices and employers – harnessing the skill and talent of today for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief operating officer Simon Ashworth said: “Schemes which increase participation for sectors and individuals currently excluded can only be a good thing, as long as it doesn’t mean a lesser quality of experience and outcome. Building on the ATA [apprenticeship training agency] model, the scheme could certainly result in greater participation of apprenticeships in sectors or occupations currently excluded from apprenticeships because existing models are not compatible with the expectation of continuous employment with the same employer over 12 months.

“However, the providers will need to manage any break in learning effectively to make sure that individuals are not out of work for too long and suffer from eroded learning and a disjointed experience. Experience shows that apprentices are most at risk of being disengaged and dropping out of an apprenticeship when they have a break in their learning. Flexi-job apprenticeship providers should also be required to have an enhanced pastoral support network to assist apprentices placed with distinct employers.”

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Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay is head of FE at Tes

Find me on Twitter @JBelgutay

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