We are committed to ensuring that our reforms to apprenticeships work for smaller employers and their providers, such as group training associations (GTAs).
GTAs are important members of the training provider market, working for groups of employers to provide high quality training. We ran a procurement exercise to secure high-quality training to support small and medium-sized employers from January 2018 to April 2019. This was a highly competitive exercise attracting interest from a wide range of training providers and we recognise that not all providers were successful in the competition. The contracts we awarded have been subsequently extended to April 2020, supported by over £700 million funding for new starts and existing apprentices.
In addition to these contracts, the smaller employers are also able to receive transfers from levy-paying employers, allowing GTAs access to levy-funded training. We have also announced that we will shortly enable levy payers to transfer funds to cover the full cost of training for 16 to 18-year-olds in the smallest businesses with fewer than 50 employers.
Earlier this year, we confirmed that small and medium enterprises (SMEs), who do not pay the apprenticeship levy, would soon be able to access the benefits of using the award-winning apprenticeship service (AS). The AS, already in use by large levy paying employers, will give SMEs greater control over choosing their apprenticeships, a greater range of training providers to engage with, and a new route to access apprenticeship funding.
We announced at the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) conference on 29 October 2019 that from January we will begin to transition SMEs onto the service, and will be supporting up to an additional 5,000 starts per month from January to March 2020 for employers that don’t pay the levy. We will be issuing more detail on the transition arrangements from November and throughout 2020.
Officials meet regularly with GTA England to discuss training provision, including in respect of apprenticeships. We also work closely with the AELP, the Learning and Work Institute, and the Association of Colleges to consider a range of sectoral issues and to ensure that our apprenticeships reforms continue to work for employers of all sizes, including charities.