Sectors including the creative, agriculture and construction industries can now bid to manage a share of a £7 million fund to support the creation of new flexible apprenticeships, unlocking more opportunities for people to develop the skills they need to get good jobs.
On 3 August 2021, the Education and Skills Funding Agency launched a new £7 million Flexi-job Apprenticeship Fund. This is a part of the Agency’s wider changes to apprenticeships, making them more flexible in response to the changing world of work.
Flexi-job apprenticeships are intended to help employers overcome structural barriers to making greater use of apprenticeships. They will support businesses in all sectors to make a sustainable investment in the skills they need to grow, and build a diverse talent pipeline for the future.
In sectors where flexible or project-based working are the norm, new flexi-job apprenticeship agencies will bridge the gap to help employers realise the benefits of apprenticeships for their business.
The Agency is inviting sector bodies, groups of employers and other interested organisations to register as Flexi-job apprenticeship agencies, giving them access to the £7m fund to support new agencies with their start-up costs. Prospective agencies need to be able to demonstrate that they understand the skills needs of their sector or region, and can work towards financial sustainability in the coming years.
The Fund will establish a small number of agencies that will set up new flexi-job apprenticeships so an apprentice can work across a range of projects and with different employers to gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to be occupationally competent.
For example, this would enable an apprentice working in film, TV or theatre to work on different productions during their apprenticeship, or an apprentice in construction to fulfil several contracts to complete their apprenticeship – such as working on a home refurbishment or a project for an office block. Meanwhile, someone working in adult social care could undertake care placements with a range of employers – including home care via a care agency, and in nursing home or hospice settings.
The fund will make £7 million available in England across 2021-22 and 2022-23. Organisations can apply for funding between £100,000 and £1 million to set up new flexi-job apprenticeship agencies.
It may also support existing good quality apprenticeship training agencies (ATAs) to diversify as flexi-job apprenticeship agencies.
The £7 million Flexi-job apprenticeship fund will be a competed grant process and applicants will also have to apply to join the register of flexi-job apprenticeship agencies.
Applicants must meet a robust set of criteria as well as being able to provide details of how they will meet the needs of their chosen sector or region, and ensure apprentices and placement employers receive a high-quality apprenticeship experience.
Full details on the types of organisations eligible to register as Agencies can be found in the register application guidance document available on the GOV.UK website.
HOW TO APPLY
The flexi-job apprenticeship fund will run for 15 months from January 2022 to March 2023 and all grant-funded activities must be completed by 31 March 2023.
Applications to the register, and for grant funding, are open via the Department for Education eTendering Portal.
Applications for the fund must be submitted via the DfE eTendering Portal no later than 12pm (midnight) on Wednesday 6th October 2021 and the Agency will notify bidders of the outcome of their application during December 2021.
Applicants will need to be successful in their application to the register before they can apply for support from the £7m grant. Eligible organisations may apply for both at the same time.
Details about how to register, application guidance and the grant specification is available at this LINK.