Housing apprenticeships: the big questions
As National Apprenticeship Week begins, Vanessa Howell, our head of professional standards, answers the big questions about the new housing apprenticeships.
What is changing?
The government has completed a major reform of apprenticeships with two major changes.
The first relates to the apprenticeships themselves. The current framework has been replaced by new standards which have been developed by employers and are more tailored and specific to the housing sector.
The second major change is the introduction of an apprenticeship levy which requires all employers with a pay bill above £3 million a year to pay a 0.5% levy to invest in apprenticeships. This comes into effect on 6 April 2017.
What are the new apprenticeship standards and how are they different?
In the past the range of apprenticeship standards on offer has covered generic sectors and topics, but the new standards are more tailored, specific and relevant.
They are essentially a job description setting out the knowledge, skills and behaviours the apprentice will have gained by the end of their apprenticeship. The same standards can be tailored across social housing and the private sector.
The three new housing apprenticeship standards are:
• Housing/property management assistant - a 12 to 18 month apprenticeship leading to roles like resident involvement assistant, customer services assistant or letting assistant
• Housing/property management officer - an 18 to 24 month apprenticeship leading to roles like neighbourhood officer, tenancy officer or negotiator
• Senior housing/property officer - an 18 to 24 month apprenticeship leading to roles such as neighbourhood housing manager, property manager or lettings manager.
How will I deliver the new standards?
The new apprenticeships are focused on learning in the workplace rather than assessment in the workplace.
This requires a level of support and buy-in from the employer as a learning programme must be put in place before the apprentice starts.
Employers must work with a lead training provider to develop a programme to support the apprentice and they must be approved by the Skills Funding Agency.
The government’s national registers will allow employers to identify approved apprenticeship training providers and end point assessment organisations. Successful completion of the apprenticeship will be determined by an independent end-point assessment.
How does the end-point assessment work?
Think of the new apprenticeship like learning to drive, with the end-point assessment as the final practical examination and a learning acting as the theory test.
Essentially, the standard is a job description outlining the knowledge, skills and behaviours the apprentice will have gained by the end of the apprenticeship.
The apprentice will complete most of their learning on the job.
The end-point assessment requires them to complete a project or case study that allows them to demonstrate that they can combine the knowledge, skills and behaviours to complete a real world task.
The apprentice will then attend an interview with a panel made up of the employer, training provider and independent housing professional appointed by the assessment body, to discuss the project/case study. This will allow the panel to ensure that the work is the apprentice’s own and fill any gaps that weren’t fully covered within the submission.
The project task will vary depending on the individual’s role and the needs of the employer. The project brief will be signed off as fit for purpose by the assessment body before the apprentice begins work on it.
How much will my organisation pay under the levy and how do I access the funding?
If your pay bill is more than £3 million a year you will start paying the apprenticeship levy from 6 April 2017.
The levy is collected monthly by HMRC via PAYE and is charged at 0.5% based on gross pay – which is basic salary and bonuses.
All employers will receive an offset allowance of £15,000 – equivalent to 0.5% on a payroll of £3 million. The allowance reduces the amount of apprenticeship levy you have to pay by £15,000 across the year. This means that only employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million will pay the levy.
An example based on an employer with an annual pay bill of £5 million would be:
Levy sum: 0.5% x £5,000,000 = £25,000
Minus allowance: £25,000 – £15,000 = Annual payment of £10,000
The levy can then be accessed via the digital apprenticeship system (DAS) to go towards the new cost of delivering the new apprenticeships. The funds can be used to pay a government-approved training provider.
You can find more information on the levy here.
How can CIH help?
At CIH we can support your apprenticeship programme in a number of ways both in terms of practical delivery and advice and support.
Our CIH Level 2 Certificate in Housing Practice, Level 3 Certificate in Housing Practice, and Level 4 Certificate in Housing are recommended qualifications and these could be used as part of the learning programme.
These qualifications can be delivered by CIH Housing Academy through blended learning, or as an in-house programme, should you have enough candidates.
Our Housing Academy has just been announced as a registered, government-approved training provider for the new housing apprenticeships.
And finally, CIH is an approved end-point assessor for all three apprenticeships, so we can conduct an independent final assessment for your programme.