Freight forwarders stand to benefit from wider access to Government apprenticeship service

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) says that the recent announcement that the UK government is expanding access to the apprenticeship service to employers who are not one of the existing 22,000 apprenticeship levy-payers using the service already, will be of great benefit to many of its members.

Robert Keen, Director General of the trade association for the UK’s freight and logistics industry, explains that 90 percent of BIFA corporate members are small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) that do not qualify as levy-payers and have had restricted access to the apprenticeship service to date.

Keen says: “The news that the Education and Skills Funding Agency (EFSA) is now expanding access to the apprenticeship service will be welcomed by companies within our membership who are non-levy payers as they will now have greater ownership, visibility and involvement with apprenticeships, funding and access to a wider range of high-quality training providers. 

“This means that SMEs within our membership will have greater control over the apprenticeships with which they engage, and could lead to a significant increase in the number of individuals enrolling on the International Freight Forwarding Specialist apprenticeship, in which BIFA had a significant role prior to its launch in 2018.”

The early transition period through until March will be an initial test phase, during which time the EFSA will undertake large scale testing, seeking feedback from smaller employers and training providers. During the transition EFSA will continue to run contracts with training providers so smaller employers have a choice around how they access apprenticeship funding, joining the apprenticeship service when they feel they are ready.

During the test phase, additional funding will be made available for up to 15,000 new starts through the service.

As it enables smaller employers to use the apprenticeship service, it is introducing the ability for them to reserve funds for training and has published updated versions of the Funding Rules and new Reservations Policy Statement.

Keen adds: “Any BIFA Member should contact one of the apprentice providers who will be able to help them navigate through the process. It is important to act quickly and there is an option to reserve funding, with which one of the apprentice providers will be able to assist.”

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