Apprenticeships and the Voluntary Sector

Youth unemployment and levels of NEETs is likely to become a real issue post Covid-19 and the Chancellor made some additional funding available in July 2020 to help employers create more opportunities for young people.  Called the Plan for Jobs, it also includes encouragement for employers to keep on staff, a boost for the hospitality, accommodation industries, and construction industries.

Funding boost

The funding around young people in the job market takes the form of additional bonuses for employers taking on apprentices, trainees and those at risk of unemployment.


Traineeships are unpaid work placements between 6 weeks and 1 year, undertaken as part of a training course.  These are for young people, aged 16-24, and are often considered as ‘pre-apprenticeships’.

Aim: to triple the number of traineeships and sector-based work academy placements

Funding: £111 million this year for traineeships in England, to fund high quality work placements and training for 16-24 year olds.

Scheme: For the first time ever, the government will fund employers who provide trainees with work experience, at a rate of £1,000 per trainee from September (up to 10 per organisation). The government will improve provision and expand eligibility for traineeships to those with Level 3 qualifications and below, to ensure that more young people have access to high quality training.


Paid, work-based training, with a minimum of 20% off-the-job training, for a minimum of 1 year, for anyone aged 16 or over.

Scheme: The government will introduce a new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1st August 2020 to 31st January 2021. These payments will be in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government already provides for new 16-18 year-old apprentices, and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan – where that applies.

These details are taken from the Government’s Business Update, Issue 58. More recent Business Updates, including the current information on the schemes, are on the Gov.uk website.


Additional measures have also been announced:

ESF – new funding

Further ESF funding will be opened up shortly, with four new funding calls being anticipated for Cornwall & Isles of Scilly, including for young people’s training, offenders and domestic abuse.

Kickstart Scheme

Aim: to fund the direct creation of high-quality jobs for young people at the highest risk of long-term unemployment.

Scheme: A £2 billion fund to create hundreds of thousands of high quality 6-month work placements aimed at those aged 16-24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment. Funding available for each job will cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.

DWP support and careers guidance

Additional support is also being given to people who are currently unemployed, by strengthening existing employment and skills support to help them back into the labour market quickly. This is being offered through the DWP and the National Careers Service.


Technical qualifications to sit alongside A-levels, with 2 years of classroom learning plus a 45-day industry placement in the second year. Cornwall Council is very keen to see local employers step up to offer work placements to students in Cornwall studying T Levels.

Apprenticeship misconceptions

Common misconceptions around apprentices exist.  Cathie Kessell, Employment and Apprenticeships Officer at Cornwall Council, has been sharing information around apprenticeships with the VCSE Emergency Response Alliance (VERA) especially around how they could work in and for the voluntary sector. You can download her entire presentation here:VERA apprenticeships presentation 22 7 20

She provided a series of useful points around common misconceptions of apprenticeships:

  1. Anyone of any age can undertake an Apprenticeship.
  2. Graduates can undertake Apprenticeships.
  3. Apprenticeship training can be undertaken by existing staff.
  4. Training is available from Level 2 (GCSE) to Level 7 (Masters).
  5. Professions traditionally accessible via HE study can be undertaken via an Apprenticeship e.g. Accountant, Teaching, Nursing & other health professionals, Architect, Surveyor, Civil Engineer, Scientist & Solicitor.
  6. As well as part-time working, zero hours contracts are allowable.
  7. There is an option for the employment of the Apprentice to be hosted by an Apprenticeship Training Agency.
  8. Most Apprenticeships can start any time in the year.

Apprenticeships in the sector

The voluntary sector is one of the sectors which is well placed to take advantage of the apprenticeship scheme. The additional cash boost will be very welcome, and bringing new blood and fresh talent into the sector is a way to strengthen our position, at this difficult time. Many VCSE sector organisations already employ apprentices, and consider it an excellent way to grow their organisations, with only a little financial outlay.

Funding an apprenticeship

The Apprenticeships.gov.uk website has a section around funding:

  • employers with a payroll of less than £3m per annum can get funding towards training and assessing apprentices.
  • For organisations with fewer than 50 employees, the government will fund all the apprenticeship training costs (up to given maximum figures dependant on the level of the apprenticeship after which you pay the difference).
  • For organisations with more than 50 employees, you pay 5% of the cost, up to the same maximums.
  • Organisations with a payroll over £3m pays into an Apprenticeship Levy, which is topped up by Government. Up to 25% of this can be transferred to other organisations.

The National Minimum Wage for apprentices is £4.15 for those under 19, and those in their first year of the apprenticeship.

Once they have completed the first year, apprentices are entitled to the NMW for their age, unless they are still under 19.

If smaller employers wish to take on Apprentices and reserve funding then they can do this by setting up an account using the Government’s new Apprenticeship Service.  Or a training provider can do this on your behalf, subject to your permission.  For further information on setting up an account can be found here.

See below about Cornwall Apprenticeship Agency, which can employ apprenticeships on behalf of organisations, to ease the HR/paperwork burden, and risk.

Finding an apprentice

The Government’s has a national gateway for employers and individuals on all things Apprenticeships is

Employers can use this website to search for available Apprenticeship training and find potential local/national training providers.  However, the provider search function isn’t always very accurate, so training provider selection support can be sought by emailing info@cornwallapprenticeships.com.  Also, employers are to note that Apprenticeship frameworks listed on this website will close to new starters on 31 July 2020, being replaced by Apprenticeship standards.

The Government has a portal for local and national employer Apprenticeship vacancies.  Tell your training provider if, for any reason, you don’t not wish your Apprenticeship vacancy to be listed on this national platform.

Apprenticeships in Cornwall

Cornwall Apprenticeships is run in conjunction with Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Skills Hub. It features a website, acting as a hub for local Apprenticeship information and support for both employers and individuals.  It also has active social media content to showcase the benefits of Apprenticeships here in Cornwall.  The team behind Cornwall Apprenticeships provides impartial information and advice for all and particularly helps employers to understand and start their Apprenticeship journey.

Cornwall Apprenticeships can also share weekly Apprenticeship vacancies listings with organisations who may be supporting those looking for work.

Cornwall Apprenticeships also supports larger Apprenticeship Levy employers to transfer any unspent Apprenticeship Levy money and direct this to other local employers, rather than the funding being ‘lost’ from the County to Treasury.  Currently, a Cornwall-wide transfer Levy pot is in the process of being established to help Levy employers pledge funding and help other employers to access funding for training costs.  Anyone organisations interested in this – either to pledge or receive funding can email info@cornwallapprenticeships.com

Cornwall Apprenticeship Agency

Cornwall Apprenticeship Agency is an Apprenticeship Training Agency covering Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.  It is run by Cornwall Marine Network, and can act as a broker to source relevant Apprenticeship training (fees may apply) and, more importantly, host the employment of your Apprentice for an agreed hourly rate of pay and fee.  This will reduce the payroll/HR burden for some employers and also the potential risk. It can be an attractive option for some employers.

It is also possible for them to broker an apprentice-sharing arrangement between two similar organisations which do not have the capacity to take on an apprentice alone.

Some examples of Apprenticeship training which may particularly suit voluntary type organisations and also apply to existing staff who may need to upskill or take on new roles within an organisation:

  • Social & Digital Marketing/PR,
  • IT User and Technical Support,
  • Administration,
  • Finance,
  • Payroll,
  • Management & Leadership,
  • HR,
  • project management,
  • bid and proposal coordination,
  • Customer Service,
  • various care related training,
  • coaching,
  • procurement,
  • cyber security,
  • debt adviser,
  • employability practitioner,
  • fund raiser,
  • housing
  • Youth support.