SME Apprenticeship Service FAQs

What do I need to do now?

You don’t necessarily need to do anything at this stage. The ESFA is providing SMEs with more choice, options and control for accessing funding. From January 2020 if you have identified an apprentice need and a start for January – March 2020 then you can either work with a provider with an existing contract from the ESFA, or you can ‘reserve’ funding via the Apprenticeship Service and select any main provider who has been approved and is currently registered on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers list of providers.

How can I find providers listed on the Register of Apprenticeship Training providers?

There are many different ways to identify a provider who is approved on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP). Two simple ways would be to either look at the ESFA list (available here: https://download.apprenticeships.education.gov.uk/roatp) or, if you know what apprenticeship programme you would like to train apprentices in, you can search for the provider through here https://findapprenticeshiptraining.apprenticeships.education.gov.uk/


What if I don’t have any plans to start an apprentice between January to March 2020?

You don’t need to do anything at this stage if you don’t have any plans to start an apprentice between January to March 2020. However, if you’re thinking about taking on an apprentice for later in the year, please do get in touch and we’d be happy to help and provide some further advice and guidance.

How can I register for the Apprenticeship Service?

You can start to register for the Apprenticeship Service through the following link: https://accounts.manage-apprenticeships.service.gov.uk/service/index

There is a simple 3-step process that SMEs are required to complete

1.Registering for an account

2.Adding PAYE details
3. Confirming the details of the organisation.

You’ll need to have a valid and working email address, the PAYE details, business details (such as address and companies house number) and be authorised on behalf of the SME to be able to accept the agreement.

What will the Apprenticeship Service do?

SMEs will have much more control in apprenticeship training than ever before. Through the Apprenticeship Service SMEs will be able to: manage users, organisations and PAYEs; accept the employer agreement for the apprenticeship service; manage and reserve funding; recruit apprentices; add new apprentices; and also link to the training provider account.

Will the Apprenticeship Service mean more administration for me as a small employer?

The Apprenticeship Service has been designed to minimise and streamline the work required for managing apprenticeship training. The ESFA have created this easy to use digital service to be responsive and flexible to needs. SMEs will also be able to delegate some data entry requirements and management of apprenticeship training to their training provider.

How can I reserve funding?

Funding for an apprenticeship through the Apprenticeship Service is only available where a reservation has been made. Reservations can only be made for the new Apprenticeship Standards. SMEs will need to know the expected start month of learning for the apprentice (i.e. January, February or March 2020) and what the Apprenticeship Standard to be funded through the service is. Details of the apprentice will then need to be added to the Apprenticeship Service, with an Apprentice Record created. Further details about the process for reserving apprenticeship funding is expected to be released in the New Year. You can register for webinars through the following link: https://www.gotostage.com/channel/apprenticeshipservicewebinars


How will the Apprenticeship Service affect the apprentices and the funding we have in place today?

This new process does not have any impact on your current apprentices and the funding that you have in place. You can continue to work with your training provider.

Why is this change happening?

This new of working will give SMEs much more choice and control in how funding for apprentices is managed and delivered. SMEs will be able to reserve funding, recruit and advertise for apprentices and find an end point assessment organisation. This will enable SMEs to make better and more informed choices on those apprenticeships that are right for the business.

How do I choose the right apprenticeship provider?

With well over 2,000 different apprenticeship providers delivering training, selecting the right provider can often seem a complex and daunting challenge. However, selecting the right provider can be summarised into five simple but critical considerations that you should think about before committing to working with a provider:

  1. A strong track record – have a look at the provider and their history of delivery. Do they offer the quality of service you’d expect to see? Whether this an Ofsted rating, success rates of past performance or even experience of delivery
  2. Reputation – do learner and employer satisfaction rates indicate a strong commitment to success? Does the provider have a range of case studies or employer testimonials that shows their work? Is the provider a market leader with awards and nominations for their delivery?
  3. The geographical coverage to match your needs – Can the provider deliver the programmes you want and where you want?
  4. Cultural alignment – does the provider that you’re interested in working with match your own organisational culture? Perhaps share the same type of values and beliefs?
  5. Data management – can the provider robustly monitor and provide accurate reports of learner progress?

Where can I find more information?

More information will be coming out from the ESFA over the coming months. In the meantime, please take a look at the ESFA website, the recorded webinars for the details that have been released so far and you can also register to participate in the ESFA’s planned webinars for the New Year via https://www.gotostage.com/channel/apprenticeshipservicewebinars

Interserve Learning & Employment will continue to share key updates as and when this happens.


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