Apprenticeship Service registration for SME

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Home Forums Data issues Apprenticeship Service registration for SME

This topic contains 16 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  amrikaujla 1 month ago.

Viewing 17 posts - 1 through 17 (of 17 total)
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  • GaynorLFT

    Is anyone else having issues?
    Our SME employers (who are mainly sole traders) are having a nightmare trying to register on the Apprenticeship Service. They have been told that when they get their paye details they then have to wait 10 working days before they can register on the AS… but it still doesn’t work then. Rang the AS who said theEmployer will need to contact the Pensions Regulator to confirm the paye scheme details are registered and then try again on the AS.

    Meanwhile we have Apprentices and employers who want to start work but are unable to……

    Spoke to AS to discuss this massive barrier to learning and told there is nothing they can do about it-they are aware it doesn’t mention having to contact the Pensions Regulator or having to wait 10 days in the Employer registrations but they don’t inted to change anything.

    They also confirmed that no Employers can start Apprentices before they are on the AS as they are unable to backdate starts – even if they can see the Employer has started the registration process. They cannot take them on before they start the Apprenticeship as they would not be considered a New Employee for the grants.

    We have around 80 employers this affects, 30 of which have apprentices waiting to start.

    Does anyone know where I can raise this issue? The AS said ‘all I can do is raise it to the technical team, but I don’t see the process changing’

    Some Employers will just not bother which will means Apprenticeship starts being thrown away in a time where we really need to be looking after our youg people…..


    Martin West


    Hi GaynorLFT,

    we have a similar issue with a number of August starts. As there were delays in registering on the Apprenticeship Service (as highlighted by you) some employers have not been able to register in advance or within the month the apprentice started. The system doesn’t allow the reserving of funds to be backdated so the only response we have received is to say that the start dates need to be moved back. No acceptance of responsibility that employer incentives have been promoted and the system wasn’t ready to cope or any acknowledgement that the employers and learners are the ones who are inconvenienced as a result – paperwork to be re-done, contracts and apprenticeship durations to be extended etc. When this was highlighted we were told to make a formal complaint to the DfE – is this where the relationship between providers and ESFA/App Service has got to now? We have made the complaint and raised with ESFA but no responses received so far.



    Hi Barretti

    What a headache.

    It’s a complete farce at the minute for our Employers and Apprentices. It’s not working at all and the only ones suffering are the Apprentices as some of our Employers have just thrown in the towel

    Can you tell me who you raised the complaint with please? Was it your Provider Manager?



    Martin West

    The new employee does not need to start the Apprenticeship immediately, the funding rules allow for them to be on a contract of employment prior to the start of the apprenticeship agreement thus allowing time for them to set up their AS account and allow the provider and employer to agree the commitment statement prior to the start of the apprenticeship agreement.

    From the employer rules which the provider rules reference.
    Incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice
    E105 You will be eligible to receive an incentive payment for hiring a new apprentice for an apprenticeship start if, at the start of the apprenticeship, the apprentice is a new employee. You will be required to sign a declaration confirming that they are a new employee when making a claim through the apprenticeship service.
    E106 That apprentice must (subject to paragraphs E107 and E108):
    E106.1 have a contract of employment start date with you between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021 (inclusive);
    E106.2 not have been employed by you (or the maintained school or connected company or charity – see paragraph E107) within the six months prior to the employment contract start date; and
    E106.3 have an apprenticeship agreement containing a start date between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021 inclusive (subject to paragraph E110 regarding redundant apprentices).




    the complaint had to be raised formally with DfE. Separately we have raised with our ESFA contact within the Territorial Team and obviously with the Apprenticeship Service directly initially.

    Martin, yes I understand the contract could be prior to start but many employers put apprentices on contracts for the period of the apprenticeship. Now, through no fault of their own and because the system isn’t flexible, these potentially have to be changed. No acknowledgement or understanding of the inconvenience to employers and learners. We are providing advice accordingly for future starts but still have the issue with August ones.


    Martin West

    Hi Barretti,
    I understand that you are finding this all frustrating, but the Apprenticeship Agreement would substitute the prior contract of employment.

    Providers need to understand how to work within the limitations of the Rules and the Apprenticeship Service to be able to inform and guide the employer though the process.

    I was also originally confused by the new start requirement in the funding rules regarding the incentive but all it means is it must be a new start after the 1st August.



    Hi Martin,

    I think we may be talking about slightly different issues. It’s fine to say we need to work within the limitations of the Rules – I’ve no problem with that. The issue was August in particular when the system was not effectively ready and couldn’t cope with employers trying to register and reserve funds. No acknowledgement of this from the Apprenticeship Service.



    Thanks Martin

    But if instuctions on the Apprenticeship Service tied in to the actions required by the Employer then we wouldn’t be in this situation at all.

    No where does it tell the employer they have to wait 10 days after receiving their Paye details to register. Neither does it tell them upfront that they also need to register with the Pensions Regluator, and then wait a further 2 working days after that to be able to complete their registration.

    If the instuction was there it would be followed and would stop an awful lot of confusion, frustration, and unnecessary telephon calls….

    I am supporting all our Employers through this process but I am limited to directing them to the Apprenticeship Servcie or the Pensions Regulator

    All we need is clear initial instructions. it really is frustrating that the full information isn’t given at the start of the registration process.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by  GaynorLFT.

    Caspar Verney

    Laura ESFA

    Hi all,

    I have been asked to share the following:

    The apprenticeship service links to HMRC as part of the employer registration process so employers must ensure they have registered with HMRC first, have a valid PAYE scheme set-up and have made at least one submission to HMRC. You will then be able to register with the apprenticeship service after 10 working days. If you are still experiencing problems please contact the apprenticeship support team on 08000 150600 or by email at



    Hi Laura

    Many thanks for your response.

    It would be beneficial all round if the Employers were told this when trying to put their newly acquired PAYE details into the AS.

    Also, After 10 working days, when our Employers try to put their valid PAYE scheme in they are then instructed that they need to register with the Pensions Regulator, and then wait a further 2 working days before they can complete their Apprenticeship Service registration.

    All we are asking for is the for the correct process to be in the instructions for the Employers to follow.

    I am currently trying to get 20 of our Employers to register on the AS, with a further 50 registrations to follow so the amount of unnecessary phone conversations I am having with extremely frustrated employers is taking up most of my working time. All our employers are micro businesses who are registering as an employer for the first time, many of them are ready to throw in the towel and not bother taking on a new Apprentice.

    To say we are supposed to be encouraging new starts this is not at all encouraging…….


    Caspar Verney

    Hi Laura,

    Rather than just post your response on FeConnect, please can you action what is simply required and have this information readily and easily available to all Employers before they start the process so that we do not all end up in such a stupid muddle.

    Many thanks,


    Martin West

    Hi Caspar,
    I am surprised over the confusion over this as the February 2020 update: Step by step guide to support smaller employers (Webinar) gave guidance on the process and included the requirements for the employer to have:
    a. Accounts office reference number
    b. Employer PAYE scheme reference
    and that these details would be checked against the Pensions Regulator.

    While for an employer who already has these operational as they have existing employees there should be no delay but it is obvious that for a sole trader employing their first employee that these will take some time to set up and cause some delay in the process before funding can be reserved and a start date for the apprentice determined.



    Hi Martin

    Thank you for your response.

    However, please do not assume that what is ‘obvious’ to you is obvious to sole traders who have never had to deal with anything like this before.

    Nowhere does it mention the 10 working days time delay – or the fact that, once they have their PAYE details, they then have to regisetr with the pensions regulator.

    All we are asking for is a simple, clear guide for people to follow.

    I, like may others, are providing full support to our employers throughout this process. But if there was a clear instructive guide to start with it would solve a lot of problems for us and employers alike.



    It’s not helpful that the guidance for small employers says that the use of the Apprenticeship Service is optional without mentioning that it’s a requirement if you want to receive the new bonuses.



    Does anyone know how to export employer data for a Training Provider?

    I am trying to help a client extract employers who appear in the Colleges AS account so that they can be coded up in their internal CRM system (ProEngage). Also, it would be useful to know when funds have been reserved and if this data is available as an export.

    I cannot see anything that allows me to extract a list of employers with ERN, for example.

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