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Changes to government funding for apprenticeships will have a positive impact on the floorlaying sector, says Shaun Wadsworth.

On 1 April 2024, the government announcement its commitment to increasing the age at which it will fully fund apprenticeships in small and medium businesses from the current age of 19 years old to 21 years old. The change means government will cover 100% of training provider cost (excluding capital costs) for training apprentices who are under 21 when they start their apprenticeship. This will remove the need for small and medium employers to meet some of the cost of training and saves time and costs for providers who currently need to source funding separately from the employer directly.

Small and medium businesses form the backbone of the UK economy, yet many face challenges in recruiting and retaining skilled workers. The government’s decision to increase the age at which they fully fund apprenticeships improves the financial burden on these employers, meaning that they will not have to contribute 5%+ of the training costs to the training provider for employing someone under 21 years old.

For the flooring sector, this means additional access to a pipeline of potential skills and labour, some who may have finished formal education, gone into employment but eventually realised a trade by route of apprenticeship is a great path to a career. This can only be good news for the employer, raising the age at which an employer contribution has to be made provides a wider opportunity to search for the right person.

The move is underpinned by an additional £60 million of new government funding for next year, guaranteeing that where there is demand for apprenticeships from businesses, the government will ensure there is enough funding to deliver them. From the start of April, the government has also increased the amount of funding that employers who are paying the apprenticeship levy can pass onto other businesses too.

Apprenticeships can currently be funded by a levy paying employer transferring up to 25% of their unused levy to a different employer. Under the new measures, large employers who pay the apprenticeship levy will be able to transfer up to 50% of their funds to support other businesses, including smaller firms, to take on apprentices.

Apprenticeships work, through the structured training programmes available across the UK, apprentices gain valuable skills, industry certification, and real-world experience, providing a productive, motivated and skilled member of staff. As apprentices collaborate with experienced professionals, they bring innovative ideas and approaches, contributing to problem-solving and process improvement.

In the context of commercial flooring, apprenticeships now include learning experiences around cutting-edge technologies and sustainable practices, positioning businesses at the forefront of industry trends and fostering long-term growth.

Investing in apprenticeships is a strategic move towards building a resilient and adaptable workforce capable of navigating future challenges. By equipping young individuals with the skills needed for success, employers ensure they are competitive on a local and national scale. Apprenticeships foster a culture of continuous learning and development, empowering workers to upskill and reskill throughout their careers, thereby future proofing the labour force against technological advancements and shifts in the industry.

Government’s decision to fully fund apprenticeships in small businesses from April 1st, 2024, sets up the perfect opportunity for growth and particularly in our sector holds promise for addressing the skills gap and reducing labour shortages. By incentivising more employers to engage in apprenticeships with 100% funding it provides the foundation for a skilled workforce that can meet the current demands of our sector.

For more information on all training opportunities in flooring, including apprenticeships and funding the Contract Flooring Training Guide 2024 is free to download in full from and for members the individual sections of the guide are available in the CFA members area of the website.
0115 9506836
Shaun Wadsworth is CFA and FITA training manager

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