ESFA launches online Apprenticeship Service

System to support employers recruit and manage apprentices runs on Azure cloud platform

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has launched an online service to support employers in taking on and training apprentices.

Named the Apprenticeship Service, it has gone live recently following several months in public beta, and is supported by the apprenticeship levy, which came into force on 1 May and is imposed on employers with a payroll bill of more than £3 million per year.

Man demonstrating machinery to young manIt enables levy-paying employers to apply for funds to support apprenticeships, pay training providers and manage their apprentices.

ESFA, which is an executive agency of the Department for Education, is running the service on Microsoft’s Azure, a collection of connected cloud platforms that can be used for building and managing applications through the company’s network of data centres.

ESFA director Keith Smith said: “We have found that by moving to a public cloud provider and working in-house with our ‘dev-ops’, we have achieved a 30% to 40% return on investment, which is significant for us in driving efficiency and value for money in the public sector.

“We can now be even more responsive, agile and creative. Our developers are able to respond immediately to user needs,  positioning ESFA as a true customer-centric digital organisation.

“It was also important, as a public sector organisation, to use open source, and Microsoft’s platform now supports Linux.”

Features of the service include a tool to obtain an indication of how much funding a company can receive, a register of apprenticeship training providers, and the ability to post vacancies and find candidates online.

Registration requires a Government Gateway log-in for PAYE schemes and a Companies House or charity number.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0