The Government this week launched a £7m fund to support the creation of new flexible apprenticeship opportunities, with sectors including creative, agriculture and construction being invited to bid for a share of the pot.
The fund will establish a small number of agencies that will set up new flexi-job apprenticeships so an apprentice can work across a range of projects and with different employers to gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to be occupationally competent.
Apprenticeships are at least 12 months long, so some sectors with flexible employment patterns and short-term roles, such as digital, adult social care, transport and manufacturing have found it challenging to benefit from the current opportunities available.
The fund will make £7m available in England across 2021-22 and 2022-23. Organisations can apply for funding between £100,000 and £1 million to set up new flexi-job apprenticeship agencies. It may also support existing good quality apprenticeship training agencies (ATAs) to diversify as flexi-job apprenticeship agencies.
It will be a competed grant process and applicants will also have to apply to join the register of flexi-job apprenticeship agencies. Applicants must meet a robust set of criteria as well as being able to provide details of how they will meet the needs of their chosen sector or region, and ensure apprentices and placement employers receive a high-quality apprenticeship experience.
The first apprenticeships organised through flexi-job apprenticeship agencies are expected to start in early 2022.
The announcement comes ahead of the start later this month of the ScreenSkills pilot for apprenticeships in the film and TV industry, with Netflix and WarnerMedia, backed by £100,000 from DCMS.
Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Gillian Keegan said:
“We want to build an apprenticeship system that enables everyone to get the experience and knowledge they require to get the job they want, while ensuring employers have a diverse talent pipeline to meet their skills needs.
“Our flexi-job apprenticeships will unleash exciting new opportunities in sectors such as the creative industries and construction where employment is increasingly flexible and project-based, while also helping larger organisations to grow starts in their supply chains, levelling up chances for people to build the life they want.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:
“I’m thrilled that apprentices and employers in freelance industries such as film and TV can start to benefit from our new flexi-job apprenticeship scheme as part of our Plan for Jobs.
“Together, we’re creating exciting new opportunities for apprentices and employers – harnessing the skill and talent of today for the jobs of tomorrow.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:
“It’s hugely exciting that Government is working with some of the world’s leading content producers, as well providing funding to make apprenticeships more flexible. Together, these steps mean many more young people from all backgrounds will have the chance to get a start in the UK’s world-class film and TV industry.”
Seetha Kumar, ScreenSkills CEO, said:
“As our diverse group of fantastic new apprentices start their induction later this week, we welcome this announcement which could unlock much needed apprenticeship opportunities for freelance talent and enable social mobility in key areas of skills needs for both our fast-growing sector and the wider creative industries.”
Jocelyne Underwood, Manchester International Festival, said:
“In the creative sector there is a huge will to do apprenticeships but very little experience. This fund should spur the market on as a catalyst.”
Kath Geraghty, Workforce Development Manager, Royal National Theatre, said:
“Flexi-job apprenticeships will enable a wider range of employers in the sector to take on apprentices, broaden the experience of each apprentice, and prepare them to work in a sector where freelancing and project-based work are the norm.”
Richard Turner, St Martin’s Group and Network Rail (responding in capacity as Chair of SMG), said:
“As well as the challenges of making apprenticeships work within the gig-economy, flexi-job apprenticeships will also encourage new starts amongst SMEs and help tackle labour shortfalls. There is also potential in flexi-job apprenticeships being deployed for emerging, niche, or highly specialised skills, including data and digital.”
Lord Puttman, film producer and educator said:
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“Our creative industries are a key driver of GDP and highly skilled jobs, a role that’s become ever more important in the wake of the pandemic. The launch of these flexible apprenticeships, which take account of the specific employment patterns of the creative sectors, is hugely welcome. This will help ensure that a new generation of young people have the chance to seize the opportunities presented by a decade of spectacular growth.”