The Apprenticeship Service for SMEs

Small businesses can use the Apprenticeship Service to reserve funding and apply for the employer incentives of up to £3,000 per apprentice. 

What is the Apprenticeship Service?

The Apprenticeship Service (previously known as the Digital Apprenticeship Service or DAS) was set up a few years ago. It originally gave Levy-paying employers the ability to digitally access and manage their apprenticeship training. It was designed to give employers more choice and control, with the ability to make more informed choices.

From January 2020, it became available (but not compulsory) for SMEs and it is expected that within the next six months, all employers will use the Apprenticeship Service for their apprenticeship management. But if you are an SME and want to recruit a new apprentice, this couldn’t be a better time to start using the Apprenticeship Service. It is the only way you can apply for and receive the new government incentives for employers recruiting new apprentices – £3,000 for each 16-18 year old, £2,000 for each 19-24 year old and £1,500 for any new apprentices aged 25 and older.

The service allows you to:

  • Access and manage funding
  • Receive transfers of apprenticeship hfunding
  • Search for apprenticeships and training providers
  • Choose an approved training provider
  • Give feedback on apprenticeship training
  • Apply for the employer incentives

Guidance for SMEs

There are a series of steps you would need to go through to start your apprentices via the Apprenticeship Service.

Account Set-Up

To set up your account, you will need your business details (e.g. email, address and Companies House number – if you have one), and your Government Gateway login for your organisation. If you don’t have a Government Gateway login, you can use your accounts office reference number and your PAYE scheme reference number. You will create your account, add a PAYE scheme and accept the employer agreement.

It is advised that more than one person at your organisation has access to the service account so that it can continue to be managed if a particular individual is on holiday or off sick.

Reserve Funding

To set up an apprenticeship and reserve funding, you will need to know which apprenticeship standard is going to be completed and the start month. You are able to amend these details prior to the apprentice starting.

The funds are available from the start month you entered and during the following two months. The funds will expire in the third month if they have not been used.

Use Funding

To stop the apprenticeship funding from expiring, you need to add the details of the individual apprentice, including their name and date of birth. You will confirm these details, as well as the training and assessment costs, which would have been agreed between you and your training provider.

This will change the status of your reserved funding from active to used. Currently SMEs cannot have more than ten active/used funding requests at any one time.

Apply for Incentives

After you have funding requests which are marked as used, you can apply for incentive payments for these individuals. You’ll need your registered address, Companies House number (if you have one), a remittance email address, bank details and your finance lead’s contact details.

You can read more about the employer incentives here.

Training Provider Support

As a training provider, we can talk you through each of the four steps. In some cases, you can give us permission to do some of the data entry or reserve funding on your behalf. If you are an SME and are thinking about recruiting a new apprentice, please get in touch to find out how we can support you with setting up your Apprenticeship Service account, as well as apprenticeship recruitment and training.