Blog: A rapid rise in the number of apprentices is on the way

This week is National Apprenticeship Week, when organisations from across the UK – including UNISON – are holding events to inform people about the government’s reforms, encourage new apprenticeships and celebrate existing ones.

The year ahead will see significant changes to apprenticeships and how they’re funded. The government has introduced an apprenticeship levy on all large employers (anyone with a payroll in excess of £3m) that must be used to fund training – and that’s going to have an impact on the vast majority of public services in our country.

UNISON welcomes plans to increase the availability of apprenticeships, but we have ongoing concerns about the way in which the government is implementing the new regime.

So while ministers talk about introducing three million apprenticeships, the reality is they’re only aiming for three million people ‘starting’ one – so those who don’t finish their training will count as much as those that do. The government has also failed to confirm that successful apprentices will be guaranteed a job upon completion, and appears intent to see their target reached largely by existing staff training as apprentices, rather than apprentices being new hires.

These are some of the reasons we’re keen UNISON branches are involved in the development of apprenticeships. Any public sector employer with more than 250 employees in England will have apprentices – so this is a real opportunity to shape those roles in workplaces.

With significant changes on the way, this week is a great opportunity to speak to UNISON members, employers and apprentices and recruit apprentices into UNISON. A rapid rise in the number of apprentices is on the way – let’s make sure they’re part of our union, and getting the best possible deal.