Call for large businesses to transfer unspent apprenticeship levy to the early years sector

Nicole Weinstein
Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Employers with an annual salary bill of more than £3m are being called on to transfer any unspent apprenticeship levy funds to nurseries.

The need to recruit more male apprentices to work in early years settings is also being highlighted during National Apprenticeship Week
The need to recruit more male apprentices to work in early years settings is also being highlighted during National Apprenticeship Week

June O’Sullivan, chief executive of the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), made the call to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week (8 to 14 February).

She said that such a move would enable early years apprentices to undertake essential training and help get young people back into work.

Meanwhile, the Men in the Early Years (MITEY) campaign is calling for more early years providers and training organisations to reach out and recruit more male apprentices during this week.

Nearly 5,000 big businesses failed to spend all the money allocated to them for staff training through the levy scheme, leading to more than £400m in funds expiring and being returned to the Government between May and December 2019.

With the Government extending the amount of time employers have to spend their levy funds from 18 to 24 months before they expire, levy-paying employers can now transfer up to 25 per cent of their levy funds to other employers – especially to those smaller organisations struggling to fund vital apprenticeships.

Currently, unspent levy funds within each financial year are used to support existing apprentices to complete their training, pay for apprenticeship training for smaller employers and extra payments to support apprentices.

Ms O’Sullivan said, ‘The early years sector is essential for working families, young children and our economic recovery and must be properly supported rather than hung out to dry. If we can’t afford to train new apprentices then this puts another huge strain on the sector and significantly reduces the number of apprentices we take on and limits the pipeline of newly qualified staff.

‘What’s holding back large companies from sharing their levy is that they are either unaware of how the levy works and how it’s routinely expires without being used, or they are finding a loop hole to train their graduates in a new skill that will benefit their company without it affecting their salary costs – which is morally wrong. With approximately 1.72 million unemployed people in the UK, surely the right thing to do is help support the economy and other businesses by transferring unwanted levy funds and get people back into work.’

Drive to recruit male apprentices

The Men in the Early Years (MITEY) campaign is calling for more early years providers and training organisations to recruit more male apprentices.

The organisation is working with Kids Planet Day Nurseries to help them recruit and retain a cohort of 12 male apprentices as part of a project funded by Greater Manchester Combined Authority, to break down barriers to apprenticeships.

Elsewhere, the London Early Years Foundation is also running a male-inclusive apprenticeship programme.

MITEY has been working closely with Gill Mason, head of training at the Kids Planet Training Academy, to provide training and support to help develop male-inclusive approaches across the organisation.

Kids Planet, which operates more than 50 settings, is creating innovative, male-inclusive marketing materials, including a recruitment video. It has also employed a Men in Childcare coordinator, and is already receiving more applications from men.

Dr Jeremy Davies, who leads MITEY, said, ‘The work we're doing in Manchester shows that when you put your minds to it, you can bring men into early years education. Which is great news not just for the men themselves, but for the children and the women they work with.

‘There are lots of men spending more time than ever looking after children during lockdown - and some of them will be looking to change careers. So even if the early years sector faces big challenges at the moment, it's actually a great time to be pulling men into this work through apprenticeships.’

Gill Mason said, ‘We are delighted to be delivering this project to raise the profile of men in early years. We believe that caring for and educating young children in the early years should be a job for everyone, not just women. We have had a fantastic response to the campaign so far and we’re very much looking forward to supporting and training a cohort of men through our in-house Early Years Apprenticeship programme.’

For more information, visit www.miteyuk.org

 

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