Apprenticeship Training Agencies (ATAs) promote and support apprenticeships by acting as an intermediary between employers and apprentices.
Some employers are reluctant or unable to take on apprentices because of the time periods involved, the cost or uncertainty about the value of an apprenticeship. ATAs seek to make apprenticeships a more viable option for employers, especially smaller ones.
So how does it work? Essentially, the apprentice becomes employed by the ATA, not the employer, in return for a fee from the employer. The ATA becomes responsible for the wages, tax and admin, and for supervising internships. So if an apprentice works, say, on a construction site for two months, the ATA is then responsible for finding the apprentice their next job.
This means more employers can take on apprentices, while apprentices can carry out a number of shorter-term jobs, experiencing different environments but with job security.
ATAs are represented by a national body, the Confederation of Apprenticeship Training Agencies (COATA).
One example of a successful ATA is K10, a London-based construction skills network. Recognising the short-term nature of many construction jobs, K10 is responsible for finding apprentices new jobs after one apprenticeship finishes, taking full responsibility for the employee and all contractual obligations.
K10 also runs training programmes itself and has a strong track record of getting people into the industry who traditionally would not have worked there. For example, 15% of apprentices are women; 12% are ex-offenders; and 10% have a disability.