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Apprenticeships: why we support them and why the system needs reform

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Apprentices can add great value to any business. At 24-7 Staffing we have taken on and trained apprentices in recruitment and they have proved to be a real asset.

Every year we support National Apprenticeship Week, run by the Education and Skills Funding Agency, which takes place in March and aims to spread awareness as well as encouraging employers to consider engaging apprentices.

As a business, 24-7 Staffing pays into the Apprenticeship Levy, which came into force in April 2017 and is a 0.5% levy on all businesses with a payroll of more than £3 million.

The Levy applies to us because our payroll includes all the wages we pay to the temporary staff we place with our clients, and we’re proud to say that since 2016 we have paid all candidates via PAYE and honoured the Living Wage for all, regardless of age.

But under the strict rules of the system, we – and many, many other recruitment companies – are unable to fully access and make use of the Levy fund, to provide training. This is because the funds can be spent only on training apprentices, yet workers on temporary contracts seldom fall into the ‘apprentice’ category.

Our governing body, of which we are a long-standing member, the REC – Recruitment & Employment Confederation – estimates that 20% of its members pay into the Levy. This contrasts with only 1.3% of all employers.

Employment businesses such as 24-7 Staffing, with large numbers of temporary workers, are struggling to use Levy funds to train workers on flexible and temporary contracts.

Collectively, 670 REC members have generated £104 million of unused funds. This is money that could be used to train temporary staff to improve their skills and value to our clients. They would also be improving their own career prospects through the training and furthering their careers.

The REC believes there are 960,000 temporary workers in need of skills training, who are being denied access to courses which could lead to significant pay rises and enhance their quality of life.

At the same time, 82% of businesses plan to offer training or upskilling opportunities to current staff in order to increase productivity. These opportunities could be offered to those on flexible and temporary contracts, especially in sectors where we have skills gaps such as health and social care, heavy goods driving and manufacturing – all of which are areas we specialise in.

It makes sense to us and the REC to relax the rules that govern the use of the levy funds and make it available for training for temporary staff.

The REC is running a campaign, which we support, to urge the government to reform the Apprenticeship Levy rules.

In the meantime, we will do all we can to help support training for our candidates and, of course, continue to employ our own apprentices – in fact, we currently have three apprenticeship vacancies to fill internally.

If you are looking for a new role or a new career, or perhaps think recruitment could be the sector for you, please get in touch with the team here at 24-7 Staffing by calling 0800 7830 247.

OUR ACCREDITATIONS

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