15th National Apprenticeship Awards are now open for entries - enter your employer or apprentice now!

18 April 2018

Calling all apprentice employers and apprentices! Enter the 15th National Apprenticeship Awards now and get the opportunity to be crowned a winner and celebrated at a national ceremony on 28 November 2018.

The awards are the largest and most prestigious celebration of apprentices and apprentice employers across the country.

Enter in one of the categories now

Employer of the Year categories:

Apprentice of the Year categories:

Special recognition categories:/

Entry is free and online at To help with entries, this year the process has been simplified further and guidance documents for employers and apprentices are available to download.

Government announces National Insurance contributions scrapped for apprentice employers

12 April 2016

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has scrapped all Employer National Insurance contributions for apprentices under the age of 25. This means that as of April 2016, it’s now even better value for you to take on IT apprentices as a way of bringing new skills to your business.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said:

“We’re making it even better value for businesses to take on a young apprentice. Businesses will no longer need to pay National Insurance contributions for apprentices under 25.

"Apprenticeships make sense for young people and for business. If you’re an employer not already reaping the benefits, now is the time to act.”

Government commits to apprenticeship reform

The decision to scrap National Insurance payments forms part of the wider Government commitment to radically develop apprenticeships in England. In addition, the Government has:

Launched the Trailblazer Initiative

The initiative gives industry employers the power to design new apprenticeship standards to ensure they align to the needs of modern businesses. Read about the full benefits of Trailblazers here .

Released plans to launch the Institute for Apprenticeships (April 2017)

The Institute will regulate the quality of apprenticeships in England. As an independent, employer-led organisation, it will be responsible for approving new Trailblazer standards and assessment plans.

Finalised legislation for an Apprenticeship Levy (April 2017)

From April 2017, all employers who pay more than £3 million in wage bills (less than 2% of businesses) will be subject to a 0.5% payroll levy to fund apprenticeships. Unclaimed funds from contributing employers will be used to support apprenticeships at 5.3 million smaller employers, giving them the financial means to upskill and develop their staff.

To find out how a Firebrand Trailblazer Apprenticeship can benefit your business, click the 'Find out more' tab on our menu or call us on 0800 081 6022.

BIS publishes Apprenticeship Trailblazer final report

November 2015

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) has published its final Trailblazer Apprenticeships evaluation report covering January 2014 to March 2015.

The Apprenticeship Trailblazer standards show what an apprentice will be doing and the skills needed by industry and job role. The standards were introduced in October 2014 as a way of considering the recommendations from employers with regards to the quality and relevance of training offered by training providers like Firebrand. As a result, the BIS has recognised that businesses, rather than the government, are best-informed to decide the standard of training given to apprentices.

So far, 187 standards have been published (with 160 in development), ranging from Advanced to Higher and Degree Apprenticeships – including Firebrand’s Software Developer and Network Engineer frameworks.

The report has revealed the strengths associated with the Trailblazer model:

A number of potential risks were also highlighted, however, including:

To find out how a Firebrand Trailblazer Apprenticeship can benefit your business, click the 'Find out more' tab on our menu or call us on 0800 081 6022.