Our ambition is to create a local economy worth £50 billion by 2040.  Ensuring our businesses have the skilled workforce they need now and in the future, is paramount to achieving this.

Apprenticeships are one way to combine on the job training, studying for a qualification and access to real life work experience.  They also help to support businesses to shape and influence the skilled workforce they need to increase economic growth.

Our Skills and Education Plan has an ambition to stimulate employer demand for Apprenticeships in Cheshire across a range of sectors, in particular those priority sectors which are seen as having a vital role in the future growth of Cheshire and Warrington’s economy.

We will support businesses to have greater ownership and influence over the skills system.  It will work with businesses and providers to identify skills priorities and ensure effective alignment of provision.  This includes ensuring a quality Apprenticeship offer relevant to business needs.

Expanding the provision of Higher Level Apprenticeships is key to widening participation into Higher Education and retaining talented young people, whilst increasing the economic prosperity of our businesses.

Education and Skills Funding Agency

From January 2020, the ESFA is expanding access to the apprenticeship service to employers who are not one of the existing 22,000 levy-payers using the service already. This will be of enormous benefit to SMEs connecting with apprenticeships across England.

To find out more about using the apprenticeship service as a smaller employer click here

As we enable smaller employers to use the apprenticeship service, we are introducing the ability for them to reserve funds for training. We have published an updated versions of the Funding Rules and new Reservations Policy Statement . This will allow us to forecast, monitor and manage apprenticeships funding within the overall budget for apprenticeships. To manage a gradual transition from contracted training provision to employers arranging their own apprenticeships through the apprenticeship service, employers will initially be able to reserve funding for up to three apprenticeships.

The Apprenticeship Intermediary Service
Supporting smaller employers who do not pay the apprenticeship levy.

What is the Apprenticeship Intermediary Service?

It’s a centralised support service delivered by NSAR in partnership with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to help Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and other smaller business intermediaries throughout England understand the recent changes to apprenticeships and how this impacts smaller employers. By working in partnership with you, this service aims to provide practical advice to as many smaller employers as possible until March 2020.

How will they support you?

NSAR has recruited Partnership Leads to work in regional clusters with intermediaries to deliver a schedule of information-sharing activities in each LEP region in England. These will involve a selection of co-delivered events, webinars and workshops and will cover subjects including:

  • The Apprenticeship Service – what is it, how to register, how is it used?
  • Making Apprenticeships Work for Smaller Employers – the Toolkit launch

They are offering webinars on the following dates to update you on the progress of the intermediary service and showcase best practice in your regions:

  • January 29th
  • February 26th
  • March 25th

They are also running regional ‘Masterclass for Intermediaries’ workshops. These funded workshops are open to intermediary staff and will provide coaching on the changes to Apprenticeships, allowing you to pass on sustainable support to your smaller employer networks beyond the end of this project.

In addition, they have grant funding to help intermediaries raise awareness across England so get in touch today to see how you can get involved. To get involved in the campaign, register for the webinars or sign-up for your nearest event email Find out more here.

What is an Apprenticeship? 

An Apprenticeship is a job with training. Being an apprentice means that you have a job that includes gaining recognised qualifications and essential skills whilst you are working and earning a wage. Apprenticeships are designed around the needs of employers.

Levels of Apprenticeship 

An apprenticeship has an equivalent education level and can be:

  • Intermediate – equivalent to 5 GCSE passes
  • Advanced – equivalent to 2 A level passes
  • Higher – can lead to NVQ Level 4 and above, or a foundation degree

Employing an Apprentice

Apprentices can be new or existing employees (if their job role is changing/expanding) and combine working whilst studying for a work based qualification from GCSE to degree level. You could get funding or a Grant to employ an apprentice.

Find out more about Apprenticeships here.