Yesterday afternoon (3rd March), chancellor Rishi Sunak set out his Budget for the roadmap out of the pandemic, announcing funding for apprenticeships, traineeships, and training for small and medium-sized enterprises. With just a few details around education included, we have pulled together the key parts of his plans that may affect people working or studying in the further education sector.
The Budget mentioned a few changes to the funding of apprenticeship schemes. For instance, the money generated from the apprenticeship levy will increase by 20%, rising from £2.8 billion in 2019-20 to £3.4 billion in 2025-26. This increase in funds will pay for more apprentices to be trained.
In Rishi’s speech, he also announced that the government will extend and increase payments made to employers in England that hire new apprentices. Employers hiring new apprentices between 1 April 2021 and 30 September 2021 will receive £3,000 per new hire, up from £1,500 under the previous scheme. This is in addition to the £1,000 the government already provides for all new 16–18-year-old apprentices and those under 25 with an education, health and care plan.
Furthermore, from July this year, the government will introduce a £7 million fund to help employers across England set up and expand “portable apprenticeships” to allow people to train with different employers across multiple projects.
The government has also promised an additional £126 million in England for high-quality work placements and training for 16–24-year-olds in the 2021-22 academic year. This encourages employers to provide trainees with work experience, being funded £1,000 per trainee.
They also said a new UK-wide management programme designed to upskill 30,000 small and medium-sized enterprises over three years will be offered. It will be delivered through business schools, combining national curriculum with practical experience and mentoring.
Overall, this year’s budget has been received quite disappointingly by those in the education sector, with the general secretary of the ASCL school leaders’ union describing it as a “missed opportunity” for education with no extra funding for schools ahead of schools’ catch-up plans.