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HVCA welcomes cutting back red tape

Moves to cut back red tape to help more companies take on apprentices have been welcomed by the Heating and Ventilating Contractors' Association (HVCA).

Sarah Wicks, HVCA Head of Education, said: 'The HVCA has always encouraged and supported our members to invest in the future skills of the Building Services Industry via apprenticeship training.

'In the past, high levels of bureaucracy, gruelling audit procedures and extensive paperwork have been a constant challenge for employers and in many instances have been levelled as a reason not to invest in training. 

'Despite this Industry has seen a steady increase in the number of apprentices contributing to our industry and HVCA are confident that the simplification of the registration and certification processes, reporting procedures and most importantly in the receipt of funding, will mean employers can focus more of their time and resources on developing skills rather than in creating and chasing the paperwork.

'After all, Industry needs more skilled craftsmen and engineers - not more form filling and filing!'

Skills Secretary John Denham has told the Learning Skills Council and Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to cut back on bureaucracy surrounding apprenticeships.

The challenge has also been laid down to Mr Denham’s own department and award bodies across the UK.

Mr  Denham is worried that apprenticeship providers – including many small and medium firms – are being deterred by excessive paperwork, complex registration and certification processes, excessive reporting requirements and demanding inspections.

Mr Denham said: “Employers tell us that if we are to meet our ambitious aims to expand the number of apprenticeships, we need to cut the red tape around the programme.

'There is no reason why firms should have to deal with multiple copies of time-consuming paperwork, provide the same information to several different agencies, be expected to invoice government more often than is necessary, or have to undergo complex inspection requirements when they already have perfectly adequate systems of their own.

'The practical measures we have agreed will enable more employers to meet their present and future skills needs, unimpeded by time-consuming administration. The challenge from some of Britain's leading employers, based on their own actions to get rid of red tape and bureaucracy is the perfect base on which we will build.'

A full timetable for reducing bureaucracy will be published later this summer and employers and awarding bodies are being asked for  feedback.

Measures proposed include:
The introduction of electronic audit and storage to reduce excessive paperwork and ,tackling concerns about keeping paper records for up to six years
Faster confirmation that apprentices have successfully completed their programmes. This means employers will no longer have to wait several months for a paper certificate to arrive
Streamlining of the payment systems will enable employers to receive two lump sums rather than on a monthly basis
Monthly reporting requirements will be scrapped
A reduction in inspection and review visits
Health and Safety requirements for apprentices will be based more closely on businesses' existing in-house systems

Pictured is the H&V News Awards Apprentice of the Year, Jane Bell.

For more on the national apprenticeship scheme click here