Ask the Expert: What is happening with the UK’s payroll apprenticeship? Ask the Expert: What is happening with the UK’s payroll apprenticeship?

Ask the Expert: What is happening with the UK’s payroll apprenticeship?
20 Mar 2018

Q. We would like to put one of our UK employees through a payroll apprenticeship. Could you please update me on the status of this new qualification?

A. While you are obviously personally familiar with the apprenticeship scheme, I, as chair of the Payroll Administrator Apprenticeship Trailblazer group, will provide a brief overview of it for those who are not. Apprenticeships are in the news at the moment, primarily for two reasons:

  1. UK government policy changes relating to education and skills in England; and
  2. The introduction of a UK-wide apprenticeship levy last year.

It is important to note that the apprenticeship qualification applies only in England - or if an employee works 50% or more of their time in England. Education and skills are a devolved matter, which means Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all do their own thing.

In England, we are in the process of moving from an employer-designed Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England (SASE) to an employer-led Trailblazer Standards and Assessment Plans approach. Both approaches conform to guidelines laid down by the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA).

Due to the payroll profession’s imminent skills and resource crisis, we were disappointed to see a number of SASE programme being withdrawn before the new apprenticeship was available for delivery. But when the previous chair of the Trailblazer stepped down and the group disbanded in 2017, I took over the role and began to bring together a wide range of employers and consultants from organisations of all sizes and sectors to come up with new ideas.

The apprenticeship we have now developed has two distinct parts:

  1. The Standard

The Standard is a high-level overview of the apprenticeship as a whole, detailing the required knowledge, skills and behaviour of a competent apprentice. While this section had already been approved when I took over, the new Trailblazer group did not consider it fit for purpose. As a result, we examined every element, reconstituted it and agreed learning outcomes.

It was then submitted to the IFA on 17 January 2018 and was approved on 2 March 2018. Just days before my presentation at the Global Payroll Association’s UK Summit on 8 March, the Standard went live on the Institute’s website for all the world to see.

  1. The Assessment Plan

The Assessment Plan sets the learning outcomes and instructs independent assessment organisations (IAOs) on how to assess whether those outcomes have been met. IAOs will determine whether an apprentice is competent or not and if so, will award them a valid and recognised qualification in the shape of a Certificate of Completion.

The Plan was submitted to the IFA on 28 February 2018 and is now in the process of undergoing a six-week approvals process. While there will undoubtedly be tweaks before it is finally passed, the apprenticeship should be ready for roll out near to the start of the UK tax year 2018/19.

I am delighted that the Global Payroll Association has said it will be prepared to support apprentices throughout their learning journey. But one of the important things about this qualification is that has been developed by members of the profession with the profession’s future in mind. As a result, it is vital that we:

  • Promote the apprenticeship as a valid payroll qualification and encourage employers of all types to embrace it;
  • Ensure apprenticeship training providers are on board to deliver it;
  • Be sure to use it!

 Ian Holloway

Ian Holloway is head of legislation and compliance at Cintra HR and Payroll Services. He has been in the payroll profession for over 30 years, processing payrolls large and small from organisations across all sectors until 2011 when he started helping to educate the profession by means of course material, newsletters and face-to-face presentations.

 

Q. We would like to put one of our UK employees through a payroll apprenticeship. Could you please update me on the status of this new qualification?

A. While you are obviously personally familiar with the apprenticeship scheme, I, as chair of the Payroll Administrator Apprenticeship Trailblazer group, will provide a brief overview of it for those who are not. Apprenticeships are in the news at the moment, primarily for two reasons:

  1. UK government policy changes relating to education and skills in England; and
  2. The introduction of a UK-wide apprenticeship levy last year.

It is important to note that the apprenticeship qualification applies only in England - or if an employee works 50% or more of their time in England. Education and skills are a devolved matter, which means Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all do their own thing.

In England, we are in the process of moving from an employer-designed Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England (SASE) to an employer-led Trailblazer Standards and Assessment Plans approach. Both approaches conform to guidelines laid down by the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA).

Due to the payroll profession’s imminent skills and resource crisis, we were disappointed to see a number of SASE programme being withdrawn before the new apprenticeship was available for delivery. But when the previous chair of the Trailblazer stepped down and the group disbanded in 2017, I took over the role and began to bring together a wide range of employers and consultants from organisations of all sizes and sectors to come up with new ideas.

The apprenticeship we have now developed has two distinct parts:

  1. The Standard

The Standard is a high-level overview of the apprenticeship as a whole, detailing the required knowledge, skills and behaviour of a competent apprentice. While this section had already been approved when I took over, the new Trailblazer group did not consider it fit for purpose. As a result, we examined every element, reconstituted it and agreed learning outcomes.

It was then submitted to the IFA on 17 January 2018 and was approved on 2 March 2018. Just days before my presentation at the Global Payroll Association’s UK Summit on 8 March, the Standard went live on the Institute’s website for all the world to see.

  1. The Assessment Plan

The Assessment Plan sets the learning outcomes and instructs independent assessment organisations (IAOs) on how to assess whether those outcomes have been met. IAOs will determine whether an apprentice is competent or not and if so, will award them a valid and recognised qualification in the shape of a Certificate of Completion.

The Plan was submitted to the IFA on 28 February 2018 and is now in the process of undergoing a six-week approvals process. While there will undoubtedly be tweaks before it is finally passed, the apprenticeship should be ready for roll out near to the start of the UK tax year 2018/19.

I am delighted that the Global Payroll Association has said it will be prepared to support apprentices throughout their learning journey. But one of the important things about this qualification is that has been developed by members of the profession with the profession’s future in mind. As a result, it is vital that we:

  • Promote the apprenticeship as a valid payroll qualification and encourage employers of all types to embrace it;
  • Ensure apprenticeship training providers are on board to deliver it;
  • Be sure to use it!

 Ian Holloway

Ian Holloway is head of legislation and compliance at Cintra HR and Payroll Services. He has been in the payroll profession for over 30 years, processing payrolls large and small from organisations across all sectors until 2011 when he started helping to educate the profession by means of course material, newsletters and face-to-face presentations.