Many businesses use the end of a calendar year and the festive break to finalise details in their business plans for the following year, including skills and training support. If you’re considering expanding your operations, or you’re struggling with unfilled job vacancies, it may be worth looking at what the Chancellor had to say in his latest Budget about skills training, apprenticeships, and scale-up visas.
His announcements are of particular interest to fast growing ‘scale-up’ companies that want to attract high calibre talent from abroad, and also to businesses aiming to up-skill entry level recruits.
Some of the detail has yet to be fleshed out, but here are the key points:
As part of his Budget statement, Rishi Sunak confirmed a new scheme, initially announced in May 21, for scale-up visas, to make it quicker and easier for fast growing businesses to bring in highly skilled individuals from abroad.
Eligible businesses will need to have an annual average revenue or employment growth rate over a three-year period of more than 20% and a minimum of 10 employees at the start of that three-year period. The job applicant must have proficiency in English and a role with a starting salary of at least £33,000 pa. The visas are expected to come on stream in spring 2022.
The Chancellor also announced a new ‘Global Talent Network’ to identify, attract and relocate to the UK the best global talent in key science and tech sectors. This will launch initially in areas of the US and India.
The Budget confirmed that the government will continue meeting 95% of apprenticeship training costs for employers who don’t pay the Apprenticeship Levy.
Also announced was an extension of the £3,000 apprentice hiring incentive for employers until 31 January 2022, for hiring an apprentice of any age with an employment start date before 31 January and an apprenticeship start date before 31 March 2022.
The government have also promised to look at an enhanced recruitment service for small businesses to help them hire new apprentices, and additional support for more flexible apprenticeship training models, with the aim of better meeting employers’ needs, but the detail is still sketchy here.
The development of a ‘return-on-investment’ tool so that employers can see the benefits apprentices create in their business.
The Chancellor announced additional investment in SWAPS – the Sector Based Work Academy Programme – to give unemployed people the opportunity to do work experience, learn new skills and retrain in high-demand sectors in their local area.
The government also wants to expand T Levels, mostly in the form of extra classroom hours. T Levels are a more vocational alternative to A Levels and apprenticeships and involve a minimum of 45 days’ work experience in an industry placement. Employers who offer a T Level work placement can claim up to £1,000 per placement until the end of July 2022.
There is also going to be investment in building 20 new Institutes of Technology and upgrading of existing FE colleges. Skills Boot Camps, for training of adults with no qualifications beyond GCSE are also going to be expanded, with spaces expected to be quadrupled. And there will be a new UK wide numeracy programme called Multiply, to improve basic maths skills as part of adult training.
While there therefore seems to be some renewed focus and attention on skills and training, there has also been some criticism of the Budget announcements, that they’re too piecemeal in nature and not flexible enough to work for many employers and jobseekers. With the skills training and apprenticeship initiatives, it may be worth talking to your local training providers, if you haven’t already done so, to see if there is scope to take advantage of financial incentives like the apprentice hiring incentive while it’s still available.
Here are citrus HR, we regularly help our customers with apprenticeship agreements and other new starter employment contracts, and a host of other software and support features to help give your new recruits the best of starts within your company.
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