Changes to apprenticeships 2022: what employers need to know about the new funding rules

9.30 mins

The ESFA has published the latest rules for apprenticeship funding. Here we explore the impact and implementation of apprenticeship funding rules 2022-23, their changes and how Lifetime can support you. If you’re unsure about how apprenticeships are funded, read our guide.

Key principles of ESFA funding rules changes

When it comes to government changes to apprenticeship funding, some years we see large-scale policy changes or new launches. Other years it’s adaptations to existing rules (this year it’s the latter).

In a nutshell, the latest changes and clarifications have been designed to bring together all three parties involved in an apprenticeship: the learner, employers and training provider.

The new rules encourage collaboration, making sure there’s consistent documentation and dialogue between the employer and provider to ultimately support the apprentices and achieve better learning outcomes. You can find out what’s new via our webinar or blog below. There are five key areas to this year’s ESFA funding guidance changes – here is the breakdown:

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Watch our webinar to find out about the ESFA's latest funding rules changes.

Changes to apprenticeship training plans

Apprenticeship training plans as a concept aren’t anything new, but they’ve been rebranded. Previously known as the commitment statement, the new terminology is a learner training plan.

And it’s exactly what it says it is – it's a training schedule that all parties agree on, making sure the expectations of the programme are well documented right from the start. And a huge part of what the plan looks like comes from employer participation.

The new changes are designed to create greater transparency around how and when the learner will achieve the programme, which includes breaking down all the modules within their learning plan components, being clear on how they’re going to be delivered and what resources will be available to help them achieve. It also shows what the employer’s involvement in those activities looks like. Here are more details:

  • Greater emphasis on employer participation during induction and enrolment, to agree training plans ahead of the learner starting their programme.
    • Greater levels of detail and transparency of how the learner will achieve their programme, who will be delivering each element of the programme and how the off-the-job training is being achieved and planned.
    • Increased employer involvement in the re-planning of training when learners fall behind or make insufficient timely progress towards their apprenticeship.
    • Broadened outputs of Initial assessments to demonstrate how Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) has been applied to the learners’ programme and how prior learning has been discussed in relation to prior experience.
    • Inclusion of employment start dates and practical start dates in learner documentation to support Apprenticeship Wage requirements.

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Off-the-job training

Off-the-job (OTJ) training feeds into the training plan. It makes up a large part of it and its format is still very much the same – it’s still a mandatory component of the programme. However, one major change is that off-the-job hours have been baselined.

What this means is that, for learners who work more than 30 hours a week, they will have fewer off-the-job hours to do. Essentially, it’s now linked back to the curriculum, rather than just solely dependent on a learner’s working hours. Those working less than 30 hours still have to do the same amount of off-the-job training hours – just over a longer period of time instead.

Another change is the increased element of planning. Employer-led activities, like shadowing and mentoring, are very much part of off-the-job training. However, it’s expected that those are planned and agreed before a learner goes onto programme. There’s also a greater emphasis on documentation and evidence gathering in real-time, as it happens (not just waiting until reviews with coaches). Here’s further info:

  • Baselining of OTJ hours – setting a minimum of 6 hours per week for any learner to complete, irrespective of working hours. Programme durations are extended to account for those on part-time or reduced hours (under 30).
    • Learners should continue to have increased OTJ where either the curriculum or RPL assessment recommends a higher volume.
    • Employer-led activities such as shadowing and mentoring must be planned in advance of delivery against OTJ.
    • OTJ progress must be tracked by the provider and re-planned and agreed with the employer when the learner falls behind on the planned activities.
    • Actual OTJ hours must be reported at the end of a learner's practical period, including when they change employer or undertake a break in learning.
      • Higher degrees of evidence captured to support how and when OTJ was delivered – this must be linked back to the training plan.

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Programme delivery

When it comes to programme delivery updates, there are two key elements: active learning and progress reviews.

Active learning is nothing new, but there’s now a stronger governance monitoring plan in place. It’s to make sure learners are getting routine entitlement to off-the-job training, and the learning materials they need. They’ve also increased the scope of active learning to include off-the-job training, as well as maths and English delivery too.

Progress reviews are 8–12-week interactions with the coach and the employer to capture where the learner is at. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the previous learning period, understand the short and long-term objectives being put in place and capture any off-the-job training which may have been delivered outside the provider’s remit (i.e., by the employer).

Employer involvement in the progress reviews is mandated – and those schedules can be agreed with the learning coach at the start of the programme.

    • Increase scope of active learning to support on programme payments and timely achievement.
    • Mandation of progress reviews being completed at 12-week intervals as a minimum.
  • Progress reviews include greater scope of content which must now include:

-  Documentation of teaching and training delivered.
-  Employer involvement and participation in the review process.
-  Progress against previously set actions and activities.
-  Agree and collect OTJ training evidence that is outside of the providers remit (i.e employer-led).
-  Discuss and document concerns from the learner, employer or provider.
-  Discuss and document any change of circumstances which may impact the learner’s training plan
-  Update the training plan with newly planned activities and timeframes for delivery.
-  Agree and document actions for the next review.
-  Progress reviews must be signed and dated by all three parties.

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Changes to eligible/ineligible costs

Eligible and ineligible costs have been broadened as part of the new ESFA apprenticeship funding rules. We’ll summarise two key points: Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and End-point Assessment (EPA).

Previously, there were no prescribed means of reducing negotiated prices based on RPL before the start of an apprenticeship. This year, there’s a more formulaic response for all providers to now follow (detailed below).

EPA has been put into eligible costs (but it’s clarified that only one re-sit of EPA is included). What that means is that if your learners were to fail their final assessment/go through re-training, then that next attempt at the final assessment would be covered by the apprenticeship levy and negotiated price. Additional re-sits would have to be funded elsewhere.

  • Financial reductions to negotiated prices following RPL assessment must be based on the price within cap. Where providers charge above cap, the reduction is only applied to the funding band maximum.
    • RPL price reductions follow a formulaic prescribed approach which accounts for provider’s fixed cost. This must be reduced by 50% of the duration reduction. I.e if 10% of the training is reduced, 5% the price is reduced by 5%.
    • Only 1 resit of EPA is included in eligible costs. Additional resits either be paid for by the employer (outside of levy) or absorbed by the provider. EPA prices must be actual.
    • Employer requirements to ensure learners are on the correct PAYE scheme when approved in the Digital Apprenticeship Service.

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Functional skills updates

Functional skills updates only apply to a subset of learners – those on Level 2 apprenticeships. Previous rules suggested that if a learner had to do their Level 1 functional skills, they were expected to upskill to Level 2 after (this was to drive the English and Maths agenda).

There has been a reflection on that policy, as this might not be appropriate for all learners to embark on. Now, not all Level 2 learners will be mandated to upskill their functional skills.

Instead, it will be based on a consideration of two factors: 1) Does the learner have the capability to complete the higher level? And 2) Is there the capacity to do it? I.e., is there enough time left on programme for meaningful learning?

    • Amendments to upskill policies to ensure learners have an opportunity to complete their programme in a timely manner.
      • Learners enrolled from 1/8/2022 on Level 2 apprenticeships are required to complete upskill functional skills when the following apply:

-  Their initial assessment requires them to move directly to the Level 2 assessment.
-  The learner has enough time on their programme to complete meaningful learning against the higher level. (3 months remaining or more upon completion of Level 1).
-  The learner has been informally assessed (through mock assessment and judgement) as being able to complete Level 2 assessments.

    • All learners who are upskilled must undertake all three assessments of English prior to gateway. This includes those who started their programme in a previous academic year.
    • Where upskilled functional skills are not being delivered, this must be agreed with the learner and evidenced as to why the upskill is not appropriate.

Find out more about functional skills here.

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How Lifetime can support you with the changes to apprenticeships 2022

We've recently introduced our learner management system, Aptem, an online platform for learners which takes them from initial enrolment all the way through to completion. But its design supports the new funding rules’ requirements too.

Aptem provides employers with a dedicated access point, with a range of reporting metrics, progression and planning tools for Lifetime’s coaches. It makes it easy to see exactly where the learner is and the activities they have to complete – perfect for the greater emphasis now placed on employer involvement.

We’re constantly improving and updating Aptem with new technology, so we can support our employer partners, learners and react to changes in the world of apprenticeships.

The new ESFA funding regulations: setting up success from the start

So how have apprenticeships changed? There’s more emphasis on working together than ever before. What the funding rules are also really driving this year is the quality of education – and that all comes down to collaboration, both with our employer partners and learners.

The changes reinforce how critical early engagement is and the importance of employer involvement. We’ve always worked with our partners to really understand their challenges, so we can plan ahead. It’s how we can agree on expectations and deliver the programme together, setting up learner success right from the beginning.

If you’re feeling unsure about apprenticeship funding, then read our guides to apprenticeship funding rules and how apprenticeships are funded for more information.

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