The Government announced this week that the Digital Apprenticeship Service is now live for employers to register. Jill Whittaker, Managing Director of HIT Training, summarises the new information and what this means for hospitality businesses…
“As you’re probably aware, the Apprenticeship Levy comes into force on 6th April this year. What you might not be so aware of is the Digital Apprenticeship Service and how it works.
“The service is an online portal which allows Apprenticeship Levy payers to access their funding and pay for schemes online. Following a period of extensive beta-testing with 100 employers and training providers, the service is now live. With this in mind, we’re calling on all employers who are eligible to pay into the Levy to register now and make sure they’re prepared for the launch of the scheme.
“To help businesses in the lead up to the Apprenticeship Levy launch, we’ve put together a brief guide on what the Digital Apprenticeship Service means for employers and what will happen over the next few weeks:
- The Digital Apprenticeship Service is the online portal for Levy-paying employers (those with an annual wage bill of £3million or more). It will not apply to those with a wage bill of less than £3million until at least 2018.
- The amount entering the account will be the sum you have to spend on apprenticeship training in England (0.5% of the total wage bill over £3million). Other arrangements are in place for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Government is providing a 10% top-up to employers’ contributions, making every £1 effectively worth £1.10.
- The Digital Apprenticeship Service is accessed online via the Gov.uk pages and requires the Government Gateway login details for any PAYE schemes that you want to include in your account – your payroll or finance team will have access to these. You will also need your Companies House number or charity number (if your organisation has one).
- Once registered, you will be able to complete the following actions through the portal:
- Select an apprenticeship framework or standard
- Choose the provider(s) that will carry out the training and agree a price
- Post apprenticeship vacancies
- Choose which organisation will assess your apprentices
- Pay for apprenticeship training and assessment as well as pause payments if an apprenticeship stops their training, takes a break or your provider is not running the agreed service
“But what if you’re in the 98% of companies that aren’t eligible to pay the Levy? In that case, you won’t have access to the Digital Apprenticeship Service just yet. However, the apprenticeship funding rules will still affect you – depending on the size of your business and the age of the apprentice, you can receive funding for 90% or more of the cost of the training post-May 2017.
“Any apprentice enrolled on a scheme before May 2017 will be subject to existing funding rules, where most apprenticeships are fully-funded, and will remain so for the duration of their qualification.
“The Levy and the Digital Apprenticeship Service puts the control of apprenticeship schemes into the hands of employers. As employers in the hospitality industry you can choose exactly what type of apprenticeship you want to run, the number of apprentices you want to take on and the training provider to work with which best matches your bespoke needs. All of this, combined with the new apprenticeship standards, puts a greater focus on quality – and this can only be seen as a positive change for the sector and its ever-looming skills gap.”