A report this week from the National Audit Office (NAO) found that the number of people starting training schemes has fallen “substantially” since the government introduced reforms to its apprenticeship scheme.
The NAO warned it is now “very unlikely” that the government will meet its target of three million new starts by 2020.
However, industry figures are clear in their support for apprenticeships, arguing they are an excellent way to introduce new talent to the advice sector.
One mortgage business that has taken a proactive approach to apprenticeships is Sesame, which launched a new apprenticeship scheme in partnership with Simply Academy in January.
The scheme is aimed at helping with staff development and recruitment, with apprentices following an approved study programme, as well as developing the skills and behaviours needed for the job.
Lisa Winnard, people and services director at Sesame Bankhall Group, noted that with the ageing population of advisers within the industry it was crucial to find ways to attract new blood into the industry.
However, she pointed out that the government levy which supports apprenticeships only covers the cost of the training, but firms will have to bear far more costs in order to bring in those trainees.
“It can take up to two years for them to become qualified, and in that time period they won’t be earning commission or earning for the firm. It would be great if the levy was extended to provide some support beyond for the training itself.
“The other barrier is that the levy is only available for people that are employed, but in our industry lots of people are self-employed,” she added.
Last month SimplyBiz announced that its New Model Business Academy had 100 apprentices enrolled on its development programme, with plans to boost the initiative’s numbers up to 160 by the end of the year.
Richard Ardron, marketing director of The SimplyBiz Group, argued that demand for professional financial advice has never been stronger.
He added: “The SimplyBiz Group has always been passionate about promoting advice as an attractive career path, and we are fully committed to doing all we can to ensure the long-term growth of our sector.”