UK apprenticeships schemes in logistics thriving post-covid

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The challenging times of the pandemic have sparked a new interest in apprenticeship schemes among businesses and students, states a training expert. Given labour shortages in the logistics sector have increased year after year, companies like BJS Haulage have been able to benefit both financially and operationally from apprentices.

UK apprenticeships schemes in logistics thriving post-covid
Photo credits @ BJS Haulage

Covid catalysed an interest in apprenticeships because secondary school graduates started to seek alternative paths to universities that kept them in control of their futures, says training expert Beverley Ellis.

This was coupled with the trend of employers using apprenticeships as a main tool for either recruiting into junior posts or developing existing staff, explains Ellis, Director at TRS Training Limited, who provide recruitment and training solutions for businesses in road haulage, logistics and warehousing and manufacturing.

Numerous state funding available

Students are not the only ones who can benefit from apprenticeships. There are several ways that the state is encouraging and helping businesses to make use of the young people and train them in a way that is the best for the company itself.

One of the most important additions to UK Government funding is the Kickstart Scheme, which was launched in September 2020 and whose aim is to funding to employers to create jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit.

The funding covers 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months; associated employer National Insurance contributions and the minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions.

Employers can spread the job start dates up until 31 March 2022 and will get funding for 6 months once the young person has started their job.

Further funding is available for training and support, like the levy scheme the government introduced in 2017. Its aim is to increase the quality and quantity of apprenticeships, and develop vocational skills. The levy was imposed on all employers with an annual payroll of £3million, payable via PAYE and offset against an annual ‘allowance’ of £15k, leaving it in employers’ hands to optimise the scheme by managing their levy fund directly via an online system. These funds expire after 24 months if the company haven’t used them for apprenticeship training.

Significantly more financial support for apprenticeships was put in place by the government in 2019, meaning that a levy-paying employer can ‘co-invest’ with the government to deliver more apprenticeships than their fund can provide.

There are also incentive payments to companies who take on apprentices aged 16-18, and additional financial bonuses for recruiting an apprentice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Earn as you learn” aspect is a major motivator for students, but not the only one

Claire Chivers, HR Manager at BJS Distribution, Storage and Couriers, who have several apprentices, says the schemes are a win-win all around.

“There are a range of training providers that deliver qualifications and the requisite training who – with the support of the business – meet the apprentice’s needs,” she says. „I think many companies overlook the business benefits of the scheme, it’s been fantastic for BJS and I would encourage business owners to explore their eligibility.”

BJS apprentices’ stories show that the scheme works satisfactory for the young people, too. One of the students, Luke Harrison, explains that he was unable to sit his A’ levels two years ago when examinations were cancelled by the government due to COVID.

Nervous of pursuing his higher education college plans, lest they also be impacted by evolving government legislation, Luke enrolled as an apprentice at BJS Haulage – where his Father, Roy Harrison, also works. Luke is now undertaking his Transport Planning Apprenticeship.

Apprentices, like Luke or Victoria Battersby, the latter who is studying for Level 3 Business Administration Apprenticeship, admit the earn while you learn aspect was an important factor when they decided on starting the apprenticeship program.

“But also, I wanted to be confident that I could be more in control of my learning and life choices for the next few years,” Luke adds.

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