Apprenticeships are a hot topic at the moment, but it can be difficult to get your head around all of the ins and outs of how they work. Luckily, we've distilled all of the essential information into an easy to understand guide.

What is an Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship is a genuine job with an accompanying skills development programme. Through their apprenticeship, apprentices gain the technical knowledge, practical experience and wider skills they need for their immediate job and future career.

According to www.gov.uk, the main rules governing apprenticeships are:

  • the apprentice must be employed in a real job; they may be an existing employee or a new hire.
  • the apprentice must work towards achieving an approved apprenticeship standard or apprenticeship framework.
  • the apprenticeship training must last at least 12 months.
  • the apprentice must spend at least 20% of their time on off-the-job training – this training must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship framework or standard.

Apprenticeships MUST be used to enable the student to progress. Ideally, the Apprentice should be a ‘new hire’ but the apprenticeship can also be used for an existing employee who has a ‘significant skills and knowledge gap’. The final approval for a candidate on to an Apprenticeship programme sits with the tuition provider so they must be confident that the candidate meets the stringent criteria. Apprenticeship funding cannot be used to gain a qualification and consolidate experience.

So, if you determined that a person is a suitable candidate for a regional manager post, for example, you would recruit them in to that post and then enrol them onto a Level 5 apprenticeship. At the end of the two years they should have the knowledge and experience to operate at that Level.

Funding your apprentice

The apprenticeships will be funded through the National Apprenticeship scheme and the Apprenticeship Levy. Employers will need to choose the learning provider from the Register of Learning Providers which can be found on The Apprenticeship Service, formerly the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS)

The Apprenticeship Levy

From 6th April 2017 all organisations with a PAYE bill of over £3 million per annum will be required to pay 0.5% of their annual payroll into the Levy and these funds will be used to pay for new Apprenticeships. The government will top up this amount up by 10%

The amount will stay on account for 2 years and will then be transferred to the treasury. This will be on a rolling basis so funds deposited in April 2017 and not used by March 2019 will be lost, then funds deposited in May 2017 must be used by April 2019 and so on.

Essentially, if you don’t use it you lose it!

If you are not eligible to pay the Levy, i.e. have a PAYE bill of less than £3 million per annum, the government will ask you to make a 10% contribution to the cost of apprenticeship training and government will pay the rest (90%), up to the maximum amount of government funding available for that apprenticeship.

Funds may only be used to pay for apprenticeship training with a registered training provider.

Training Provider

Training Providers must be listed on the Register. The Xenon Group is currently in the process of going through the registration process and, providing we are successful, we will be listed on The Apprenticeship Service (formerly the Digital Apprenticeship Service DAS). You will then be able to choose The Xenon group as your Training Provider for your apprenticeships in FM

Apprenticeship Standards

The government is currently in the process of implementing new Apprenticeship Standards across all disciplines. Apprenticeship standards are essentially the ‘syllabus’ for what the apprentice will learn and experience whilst undertaking their apprenticeship. They outline the knowledge, skills and behaviours the apprentice should demonstrate at the end of their programme.

Currently, the new standard for the Level 3 apprenticeship, aimed at people who want to become Facilities Management Supervisors, Facilities Management Coordinators and Facilities Management Administrators, is now available on the government website

Higher level apprenticeship standards for Levels 4 and 6 are in the early stages of being written.

Learners can be registered on the old Apprenticeship Framework which is active as at 1st May 2017 although it is not clear how long the Framework will be available for. Some Frameworks have already been withdrawn and this appears to be based on the number of apprentices registering.

Assessment

Assessment for the apprenticeships is divided into two

All apprenticeships will be assessed by ‘end point assessment’ which will be synoptic in nature i.e. drawing from all aspects of the syllabus. The end point assessment must be external to the training delivery and so there will also be a contract with the Registered Assessment Organisation.

The format for the Level 3 has now been decided. Apprentices will be assessed through a 90 minute knowledge test that will be sat under invigilated conditions and marked by the end-point assessment organisation. This will be a mix of multiple choice questions and short answer questions with topics taken from across the syllabus.

Apprentices are required to pass this test before they can move on to the second part of the assessment, a 45-60 minute competency based interview.

Apprenticeships will be graded using Fail, Pass or Distinction. The Pass mark is 70% in both components and Distinction is 90% in both components.

The BIFM Level 3 Diploma in Facilities Management is recommended but not required.

A key part of the apprenticeship will be the achievement of Functional Skills. These are Maths and English. Apprentices will be exempt from having to take functional skills if they can prove they have GCSE English and Maths or equivalent at Grade C or above. IT is now embedded into the standards and so will not be assessed. Funding for Functional Skills will come directly from the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) so is not taken from the Levy.

Need more information

Hopefully this guide will have helped you to understand where we currently stand with regard to Facilities Management Apprenticeships, but we do appreciate that it can be a tricky area to navigate. If you want to speak to us to gain a better understanding of apprenticeships, we’d be happy to help!

Get in touch