Aston reacts to Chancellor’s £80m for apprenticeships

Parliament (PR)

14 March 2018

  • The UK’s most experienced degree apprenticeship provider welcomes Chancellor’s £80m to help small businesses recruit apprentices. 

Aston University, the UK’s most experienced provider of degree apprenticeships, has welcomed the Chancellor’s allocation of £80 million to help small businesses recruit apprentices in his spring statement yesterday (Tuesday).

Philip Hammond reasserted his commitment to delivering three million apprenticeship starts by 2020, and announced the release of £80 million to ‘support small businesses in engaging apprentices’.

Aston became the first university in the UK to offer degree apprenticeships in 2015 and is the first to have alumni who graduated the Digital and Technology Solutions Degree Apprenticeship in July 2017.

The university, founded in 1895 to provide businesses in the area with new skills, has over 100 years’ experience working with enterprise to nurture professionals with relevant skills and knowledge that can be directly applied to business and industry.

Professor Helen Higson, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, the first university to produce degree apprenticeship graduates, said: “The £80 million announced yesterday by the Chancellor to help small businesses recruit apprentices is a positive step. Degree apprentices are useful to a business from day one, their study is tailored specifically to address skills shortages in the sector, and we believe they are part of the key to ensuring long term growth in UK productivity.

“Some owners have told us they feel the new system is designed for bigger businesses and are concerned about its complexity. Others are unsure about the amount of support they have to provide for learners. In many cases, we are able to address these fears by working closely with them to pinpoint how they can get the most out of it.”

“This funding should allow greater participation and be a welcome boost to the development aspirations of small business owners, helping them secure the talent, skills and enthusiasm they need to grow.”


Notes to the editor

Photos (click links to download)

About degree apprenticeships

  • The apprenticeship levy was introduced by the government in April 2017 to encourage UK employers to invest developing quality apprenticeship programmes to close skills gaps in the workforce.
  • All employers with a UK payroll bill of over £3 million a year will pay the apprenticeship levy at a rate of 0.5 per cent. However, businesses can get this money back, but it must be spent on apprenticeship training. In addition, the government will provide additional levy top ups to be spent on training apprentices.
  • Employers who do not meet the £3 million threshold, such as SMEs, are eligible for at least 90 per cent of the costs of apprenticeships with additional incentives if apprentices meet certain criteria. Business who don't pay the levy can find out more advice here.
  • Benefits of degree apprenticeships for employers include:
  • They are useful from day one: Degree apprentices are in the organisation right from the start so they can transfer their new skills and knowledge to their day to day work meaning businesses get the value straight away.
  • Apprenticeships address skills shortages:  Universities can work with businesses to develop and tailor our degree apprenticeship programmes to their needs.
  • Innovation and creativity:Degree apprentices are taught by leaders in their field, learning from the latest research and its practical applications.
  • Improve productivity: With better trained employees, organisations will see a rise in productivity. Education & Skills Funding Agency research shows that 76 per cent of businesses saw an increase in productivity thanks to their apprentices.
  • Cost effective training: Degree apprenticeships are paid for through the levy allowance and government funding, saving money on traditional training courses.
  • Attract new talent:  Universities can work with businesses to recruit fresh talent to organisations that will bring new ideas and add diversity to the workforce.
  • Retain top performers:  They present and opportunity to reward engaged high performing employees and keep them loyal to your organisation. According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, 92 per cent of employers said that apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce.

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students.  Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston has been a leading university for graduate employment success for over 25 years and our students do extremely well in securing top jobs and careers.  Our strong relationships with industry partners mean we understand the needs of employers, which is why we are also ranked in the top 20 for graduate employability.

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