Apprenticeship Intermediary Service Aims to Reach Over Two Million Smaller Employers, Helping to Put Them in the Apprenticeship Driving Seat

The Apprenticeship Intermediary Service has developed invaluable practical apprenticeship advice, knowledge and support for Local Enterprise Partnerships and other smaller business intermediaries across England.

Tuesday 12th May, 2020 – The National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR), contracted by the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has successfully delivered an Apprenticeship Intermediary Service reaching almost 700 intermediary organisations across England, bringing invaluable practical advice on the new way in which smaller employers will access and engage with apprenticeships.

Apprenticeship group meeting

Apprenticeship group meeting

New legislation was introduced in January 2020, opening up the apprenticeship service for all businesses, not just large ones, allowing employers who do not pay the apprenticeship levy to take more control over how they engage with apprenticeships. This ensures they are doing the best for the long-term economic health and profitability of their business and encourages the continuation of high-quality apprenticeships.

“There are over two million smaller employers in England who now have more choice and control over the ways in which they engage with apprenticeships and access apprenticeship funding,” explains Sara O’Brien, Apprentice Intermediary Service Project Lead at NSAR. “NSAR has been delivering a support service since December 2019 taking a ‘one-to-many’ approach in reaching smaller employers to raise the awareness of the changes to apprenticeships. We’ve engaged with over 1,000 individuals from almost 700 intermediaries and worked in partnership with these excellent organisations to ensure they have access to the right tools to help them aid their smaller employers in navigating their way through the changes to apprenticeships. These intermediaries play a vital part in reaching 2.6 million employers in England.”

The Apprenticeship Intermediary Service was delivered by the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR) in partnership with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). The service was set up specifically to help smaller business intermediaries support SMEs across England in better understanding the recent changes to apprenticeships and how this impacts them as smaller employers.

“We’ve attended, facilitated and delivered over 150 events across England in collaboration with intermediaries such as Local Enterprise Partnerships, Chambers of Commerce, Combined Authorities and sector bodies such as CITB, as well as lots of other local business intermediary groups,” explains O’Brien. “Smaller employers are encouraged to get involved and register with the online apprenticeship service helping them to benefit from high quality apprenticeships. We’ve developed resources, tools and information for local and regional business intermediary groups to use with their employer networks as well as delivering workshops, masterclasses and webinars. The engagement from intermediaries has been outstanding and they’ve demonstrated a real commitment to apprenticeships and smaller employers. To galvanise such a network of national partnership working in just four months has been incredible and a real testament to the intermediaries involved and the ESFA.”

Intermediaries and local businesses across England can now access all the tools and knowledge they need to successfully navigate the apprenticeship service via NSAR’s new microsite at


Further information
Holly Mercer (national media)/ Sean Hand (regional media)
+44 (0)20 7388 9988
[email protected]


What is the Apprenticeship Intermediary Service?
It’s a centralised support service delivered by NSAR in partnership with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to help Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and other smaller business intermediaries throughout England understand the recent changes to apprenticeships and how this impacts smaller employers. By working in partnership with you, this service aims to provide practical advice to as many smaller employers as possible until March 2020.

Why is the service needed?
There are over 2,000,000 smaller employers in England and from January 2020, they have a choice in the way they engage with apprenticeships. The Government has a vision to improve the quality of apprenticeships and ensure they work for businesses of all sizes. That’s why at the beginning of the year they opened up the apprenticeship service for all businesses, not just large ones.

This change will allow smaller employers, who do not pay the apprenticeship levy, to make more informed decisions when it comes to apprenticeships, ensuring they are doing what’s best for their business.

How can you help?
We’re working in partnership and collaboration with local intermediaries, sharing tools and knowledge so that your network of local businesses can confidently navigate the apprenticeship service. We want to help you to drive regional growth by encouraging business growth through apprenticeships.

How will we support you?
NSAR has recruited Partnership Leads to work in regional clusters with intermediaries to deliver a schedule of information-sharing activities in each LEP region in England. These will involve a selection of co-delivered events, webinars and workshops and will cover subjects including:

  • The apprenticeship service – what is it, how to register, how is it used?
  • Making apprenticeships work for smaller employers – the Toolkit launch

Businesses and intermediaries can access a number of educational webinars and regional ‘Masterclass for Intermediaries’ workshops via the website at

The service will also continue to offer regular workshops that are open to intermediary staff and will provide coaching on the changes to apprenticeships, allowing you to pass on sustainable support to your smaller employer networks beyond the end of this project.

In addition, NSAR has grant funding to help intermediaries raise awareness across England so get in touch today to see how you can get involved.

To get involved in the campaign, register for the service toolkit, regular webinars or sign-up for your nearest workshop or other events you can contact [email protected]

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