There’s been a lot of recent talk about the imminent Apprenticeship Levy and what it will mean for businesses and the world of employment? But it’s perhaps no surprise we’re interested to know how it could impact upon the hiring of ex-offenders.
The concept was initially introduced by the Government in the 2015 budget, with the intention of investing £2.5 billion in apprenticeships by 2020. Now set to come into force in April 2017, it proposes to charge a 0.5% tax to employers who have an annual payroll bill over £3 million. The money raised will then be used to support other employers with the provision of Government-approved apprenticeship schemes.
As a result, businesses with a payroll bill of less than £3 million will have 90% of the training fees for apprentices paid on their behalf. In a bid to improve the skills and employability of young people, the support will be extended for apprentices between the ages of 16 to 18, as employers will receive around £2,000 more per apprentice. Training providers will also receive a proportion of the funding, to improve relations between employers and organisations that deliver the apprenticeship programmes.
The aim is to give employers greater control and flexibility over their development of staff, which will no doubt encourage more firms – and their workers – to work towards their full potential and visions for the future.
So, where do ex-offenders fit in?
We contacted the Department for Education to see if the Apprenticeship Levy can be used to train ex-offenders whilst they’re in prison. Unfortunately this isn’t possible as they’re still serving time for the crime they committed. Only training packages and general learning course are therefore available to these candidates when inside.
However, the levy will help negate the cost of training disadvantaged employees such as ex-offenders when they have been reintegrated into society, which is music to our ears. The reason Offploy exists is to ensure employers confidently, safely and successfully navigate what can feel like an ethical, legal and HR minefield. But the availability of the apprenticeship levy will help to ease any worries associated with a common business concern – cost.
And, for as long as apprenticeships remain out of reach whilst ex-offenders are still in prison, we’ll continue to work with specialist education providers to help to ensure that these ambitious individuals are getting a head start, relevant to the opportunities available to them.
Our key piece of advice for employers considering ex-offender employment is to talk us through your requirements and aspirations. Then we can coordinate where you go from here, advising on any funding available, any wider preparation you need to take as a business, and the best ‘next steps’ moving forward.
Get in touch if this is something you’re ready to discuss now.