OFTEC says that heating firms should now start thinking about how to make the most of the new Apprenticeship Levy to help them recruit the best new talent and help towards stemming the skills shortage in the industry.
The new Apprenticeship Levy will come into play in April next year and will see businesses with an annual wage bill of over £3 million pay a 0.5% tax on payroll.
The move comes as part of the government’s aim of creating three million more apprenticeships in the UK in the next four years.
During 2014/15, the number of young people starting apprenticeships in England went up by 14%, which is the first time the total has gone up in three years, a trend that the government hopes will continue for the rest of the year.
At present, most apprenticeships (73%) are focussed in the services sector, however according to OFTEC, this pattern must change in order to provide opportunities in the most needed sectors, such as the heating industry.
David Knipe, OFTEC Training Manager, said that he was encouraged to see an increase in the number of apprenticeships in England over the past year as the group sees quality apprenticeship schemes as a crucial part of further education which will give young people a great chance to start a secure and rewarding career in the industry.
Knipe added: “With the Apprenticeship Levy coming in next year, heating businesses should be asking themselves now, could and should they draw upon the available funding to help them take on an apprentice? Recruiting young talent in this way can provide an affordable route to business expansion with the advantage of being able to train an apprentice to the high standards you expect.”
After a government review, the old Specification for Apprenticeship Standards for England (SASE) framework has been replaced by ‘Trailblazer’ apprenticeships to provide a new style of apprenticeship which is more focused on employers.