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Apprenticeships policy in England

Published Thursday, November 17, 2016

This note provides a summary of current apprenticeships policy and developments in England since 2015.

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Skills and training are devolved policy areas. This Briefing Paper covers apprenticeships in England. Sources of information on apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are included in Section 3, Useful Sources.

What are apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships are full-time paid jobs which incorporate on and off the job training. A successful apprentice will receive a nationally recognised qualification on the completion of their contract. Apprentices have the same rights as other employees and are entitled to be paid at least the apprentice rate of the national minimum wage.

There are two different types of apprenticeship schemes, frameworks and standards. Apprenticeship frameworks are being progressively phased out and replaced by the newer apprenticeship standards. Both operate under different models of government funding.

Policy Development


In the 2015 Queen’s Speech the Government set out its intention to create a duty to report on progress to meeting the target of 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020. The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 placed an obligation on the Government to report annually on its progress towards meeting this target. The Enterprise Act 2016 provided the Secretary of State with the power to set targets for apprenticeships in public bodies in England to contribute towards meeting the national targets.

Protection of the term apprenticeships

Apprenticeships have been given the same legal treatment as degrees and the term “apprenticeship” was protected in the Enterprise Act 2016, allowing the Government to take action if it is misused by training providers.

The Apprenticeship Levy and Funding

Major changes to apprenticeship funding are due to come into place in 2017. Large employers across the UK will start paying the apprenticeship levy in April 2017 and a new funding system will be introduced in England in May 2017.

The Institute for Apprenticeships

The Institute for Apprenticeships was established in May 2016 by the Enterprise Act 2016. The body is due to go live as an independent employer-led body in April 2017, regulating the quality of apprenticeships. The Government intends to increase the Institute’s remit to cover technical education and rename it accordingly the “Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education” through the Technical and Further Education Bill.

Register of apprenticeship training providers

The Government plans to create a new register of apprenticeship training providers which will come into use in May 2017.

Change in Departmental responsibility

In July 2016 apprenticeships and skills along with higher and further education policy was transferred to the Department for Education, after The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills was replaced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Commons Briefing papers SN03052

Author: James Mirza Davies

Topics: Employment schemes, Training

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