The Skills Accelerator scheme, which includes a £65 million fund, will aim to build stronger partnerships between employer groups such as the chambers of commerce, colleges and other providers so communities get the training needed to fill local skills gaps, the government said.
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The government today also launches its consultation on the new “flexi-job” apprenticeships, announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Budget, which will allow an apprentice to work across a range of projects and with different employers. That, the government says, will make it easier for employers in sectors like agriculture and construction to create opportunities.
Skills: Consultation on 'flexi-job' apprenticeships
Apprenticeships currently last at least 12 months, meaning some sectors with flexible employment patterns and short-term roles, such as agriculture, construction and creative sectors including TV, film and theatre production, have found it challenging to create places, says the government.
The consultation will seek the views on how they could be run. In July, employers will be invited to bid for a share of a £7 million fund to create and test new flexi-apprenticeships schemes, with the first approved flexi-job apprenticeships expected to start in January 2022.
The government said that, alongside today’s flexi-job apprenticeship consultation and new Skills Accelerator, work was ongoing with businesses of all sizes to support them to offer more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities, so employers and individuals could access the skills they need to succeed and help the country to build back better from the pandemic.
Experience and knowledge
Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “No matter where in the country you are from, we want everyone to be able to get the experience and knowledge they need to get the job they want, while making sure employers have the talented workforce they need.
“Our flexi-job apprenticeships will boost opportunities in sectors like the creative industries where employment is often flexible or short-term – creating even more chances for people to experience the life-changing opportunity an apprenticeship can bring as we build back better from the pandemic.
Mr Sunak said: “We know apprenticeships work – which is why they’re a central plank of our Plan for Jobs. The new flexi-job scheme will create more opportunities for apprentices across England, giving them the hope, skills and experience to progress their career and drive our recovery from the pandemic.”
Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Jane Hickie said: “AELP has always been strongly supportive of portable apprenticeships in principle, as it unlocks the opportunity for more individuals and their employers to access apprenticeships. These individuals would otherwise not meet the requirement for the required apprenticeship duration through no fault of their own at the start of the programme when working on time-bound project-type work.
"A key question for us is whether, longer term, the reform will be more ambitious in terms of the number of sectors it will cover because at the moment the scope seems rather narrow. However, we recognise the sense in the government adopting a measured approach.”