BESA calls for apprentice funding now
Plans unveiled by the government last week propose an investment of £2.5bn in apprenticeship training by 2020, funded by a levy on large employers. Those companies too small to pay the levy – around 98% of employers in England – will have 90% of the costs of training paid for by the government. Employers with fewer than 50 employees will also have 100% of training costs paid for by government if they take on these apprentices.
It also proposes to simplify the apprentice system by creating 15 funding bands – ranging from £1,500 to £27,000 – to reflect the different costs of training in the various industry sectors. All existing and new apprenticeship frameworks and standards will be placed within one of these funding bands, but employers will then be expected to negotiate with training providers to secure the best price. Funding is due to start next May.
Tony Howard, director of training at the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), welcomed the proposals, but called for greater urgency.
“We applaud the potential 90% government funding and the uplifting of STEM subject areas by 40% for Level 2 apprentices and 80% for level 3 apprentices,” he said. “However, this is not approved yet and if we are to move successfully into the Trailblazers and Future Apprentices programmes we need that funding to be available now – not next year.
“If the government could accelerate the 90% funding to September – or even January – that would show real commitment to apprentice training and avoid employers delaying recruitment,” added Mr Howard. “The building engineering services sector has a huge part to play in generating economic growth in the wake of the ‘Brexit’ vote, but it is suffering from a skills shortage – along with many other technical professions.
“We need to be moving forward as fast as possible to improve the skills of existing workers and encourage new people from all backgrounds into the sector so engineering firms can help the government meet its own targets for building and infrastructure projects.”
The position in Scotland is different. A Scottish Government consultation exploring a wider set of options to use levy funding closes on August 26.
Latest news from the world of air conditioning and refrigeration
UK: The majority of local authorities in the UK are flouting government prompt payment laws, according to a new report by the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA).
UK: A cascade refrigeration system twinning CO2 with the HFO refrigerant 1234ze has been named as Retail Energy Project of the Year in last week’s Energy Awards in London.
UK: Industrial refrigeration contractor Stonegrove Refrigeration has appointed Steve Gowing as design and project engineer.
UK: Javac UK, the refrigerant recovery and vacuum pump supplier, has been named as Climate Centers’ Supplier of the Year for the second year running.
USA: Refrigerant manufacturers have appealed against the US International Trade Commission decision not to apply antidumping duties on imports of HFC components from China.
EUROPE: The European Commission has warned that the uptake of training in alternative refrigerants is too low to match the requirements of the F-gas phase down.
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Customs authorities in the Solomon Islands have reported their second seizure of the illegal CFC refrigerant R12 this year.
IRAN: German compressor manufacturer Bitzer has established a subsidiary company in Iran.