Like many in the sector, we were eager to see what Wednesday’s Budget announcement might mean for us. Well, we took away several reasons to be cheerful.
1. The commitment to Apprenticeships remains undimmed. Don’t let the headlines about 59% drop in numbers get you down. The figures are taken from a very short period when the sector was adapting to the new funding and Levy arrangements. Things will pick up gradually over time. We’ve now got over 100 Apprentices on our books, which is the most ever, with continued growth during this transition period.
2. Alongside a housing stimulus package (which didn’t got far enough for many observers), the Chancellor announced additional investment in Construction skills, including retraining of older workers. We await the detail, but this is a positive move. We have increasing numbers of ‘older’ people speak to us about retraining, but financing is often an issue for them or their employer, so any government support will be welcomed.
3. Another increase in the Minimum Wage for Apprentices. From April 2018, the NMW for Apprentices will rise to £3.70 per hour, an increase of 20p on the current rate. Most of our Apprentices are paid in excess of that, but we support any move that puts more money into workers’ pockets!