Early years employers urged to hire apprentices

Catherine Gaunt
Thursday, August 6, 2020

Nursery groups have welcomed the Government’s drive to encourage employers to take on apprentices by offering cash incentives.

Busy Bees offers apprenticeships throughout the nursery group
Busy Bees offers apprenticeships throughout the nursery group

The scheme, which starts next month, offers employers £2,000 for each new apprentice aged under 25 they hire, and £1,500 for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over.

Employers will be able to start to claim the incentive payments from next month through the Apprenticeship Service, for all apprentices they hire between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021. This includes taking on an apprentice who has been made redundant. 

Ministers said the plan was designed to create more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities.

Busy Bees Education and Training currently has more than 1,500 apprentices in England and Scotland. The UK's largest nursery group Busy Bees has 78 per cent of these learners placed in its settings.

Although a small number of these learners are, or have been furloughed the company says it has continued to coach, mentor and support all its apprentices throughout the pandemic. 

Clare Phizacklea, managing director of Busy Bees Education and Training, said that she hoped that the scheme would encourage more early years employers to take on apprentices, not just now but in the long term.

‘It has always been important to encourage employers to take on apprentices; they offer a breath of fresh air, are keen to learn and develop within your business and become loyal and dedicated employees,’ she said.

‘During the coronavirus pandemic, the early years industry kept our key workers on the front line. And, in the months that will follow, the services we provide could not be more vital.

‘In order to drive the economy forward, the country’s parents need to know they are supported by their childcare provider to return to work. Providing a safe environment for both children and staff to attend is an undertaking that is taken seriously by everyone in our industry, and I’m incredibly proud that we’re able to play our part by supporting apprentices through this time.

‘We work with centres across the Busy Bees network as well as a number of other childcare providers. It is our experience that apprentices are more determined than anyone to play their part in getting through this crisis. I have watched many former apprentices progress exponentially through Busy Bees, from our centre managers to members of our senior management team.' 

Bright Horizons said its apprenticeship programme has more than 500 apprentices enrolled and was an important part of its professional development.

Ros Marshall, managing director, UK, Bright Horizons, said, ‘We welcome the initiatives that the Government is offering with a variety of inducements for companies to offer more apprenticeships, and provide opportunities for trainees and the long-term unemployed.

‘A clear qualification pathway, such as apprenticeships, facilitates both career progression and aspiration and we’re proud to offer apprenticeships from Level 2 through to Level 7 in a wide range of areas at Bright Horizons.’

A new online and telephone support service for apprentices who have lost their jobs during the Covid-19 outbreak has also been launched this week.

The new Redundancy Support Service for Apprentices (ReSSA) will ensure apprentices can access local and national services that can provide financial, legal, health and wellbeing support, and help them to find a new job should they need it. Apprentices can also search and apply for other available apprenticeship opportunities across the country.

Gillian Keegan, minister for apprenticeships and skills said, ‘Covid-19 has had a big impact on business and the jobs market, and we know that some apprentices have lost their jobs or are facing redundancy as a result. 

‘We are taking unprecedented steps through our Plan for Jobs to protect, support and create jobs, with a clear focus on ensuring people have the right skills to get into work and progress. This includes creating more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities to help get our economy moving.

‘Our new Redundancy Support Service for Apprentices will make sure apprentices who have lost their jobs can get the help and support they need to get back on track and on the path to a new career.’

More information

  • Any employer who would like to recruit a redundant apprentice or offer new apprenticeship opportunities, visit here, or call 08000 150 600 to find out more.
  • Any apprentice who has been made redundant or is at risk of redundancy and would like to register for the ReSSA should visit here, or for further support and to find out more call 08000 150 400 to speak to an adviser.
  • Employers can start claiming the incentive payments for all eligible apprentices from 1 September, through the Apprenticeship Service. 
  • More information about the Financial incentive payments can be found here.











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