Employer Support Fund: Guidance for providers

March 2024 update

The Employer Support Fund FY23-24 fund currently comes to an end on the 31st March 2024 and the Department is analysing the impact that the fund has had on placements.

We will confirm next steps on the fund in due course.

Employer Support Fund

This guidance will help T Level providers understand how the employer support fund works.

You’ll be responsible for:

  • validating any claims
  • making the payment to the employer once you have agreed a start date or the placement has started
  • submitting data on the claims you have paid out via the data tracking tool

You should read this guidance alongside the funding rules.

Introduction

Industry placements are at the heart of T Levels and every student must complete a placement of a minimum of 315 hours to successfully complete their T Level. Some employers are unable to offer industry placements because of the additional costs associated with hosting a student. In response to this a temporary one-year Employer Support Fund is available to support employers with legitimate costs and enable them to offer placements. The fund is for students who start a placement between 1 April 2023 and 31 March 2024.

Although the fund only lasts a year, its long-term objective is to secure a pipeline of T Level industry placements built on lasting relationships between employers and providers.

Funding is managed by T Level providers, who have received an allocation based on the number of T Level students they have on programme. Providers are responsible for working with employers to understand how best to use their funds. Providers may choose to use the funding where it is hardest to source industry placements and to engage employers who are not otherwise able to deliver them.

Accessing the Employer Support Fund tool

Providers can access the Employer Support Fund tool here. You will need a DfE account to sign in.

What the Employer Support Fund covers

The employer support fund provides funding to support legitimate costs that an employer incurs when offering a T Level industry placement opportunity.

You cannot use it to support any provider costs. This includes any costs for administering the funds. Providers already receive funding for delivering the T Level and to set up and manage the industry placement. Using the employer support fund would represent double-funding.

The industry placement must take place externally and outside the students’ normal learning environment.

We have not set a limit on the number of students an employer can:

  • host on an industry placement
  • make claims for legitimate costs for

Employers can only claim for costs up to a maximum of £25,000 across all placements they are hosting and via all providers they may be working with.

Legitimate costs

Employers can claim funding to cover legitimate costs associated with hosting a T Level industry placement student. This could include:

  • administrative costs, such as setting up:
  • processes and procedures
  • organisational systems
  • a physical workspace to support delivery
  • training costs, such as training existing staff to develop their knowledge
  • tangible costs, such as:
  • equipment
  • insurance
  • security passes
  • mandatory training for the student
  • software licensing
  • materials and supplies directly related to the industry placement
  • supervisory and transportation costs where applicable
  • additional training for the student

We expect employers to use any equipment they buy using the fund for industry placements in subsequent years. This includes items like laptops.

Additional training

The employer support fund can cover costs for extra training if:

  • the student needs the training to get value from the placement
  • staff members need the training to make sure the placement is high quality

The employer should organise the training. You should pay for the cost through the employer and not directly to any external business.

Eligibility

Any employer who offers a suitable placement opportunity for a T Level student is eligible to claim for legitimate costs, except government departments and arm’s length bodies.

Employers cannot claim for placements that started before 1 April 2023. The fund is for industry placements that begin after 1 April 2023 and before 31 March 2024.

It covers students from the 2022 to 2023 and 2023 to 2024 academic years.

Funding

We have already allocated T Level providers a set amount of money based on their T Level student numbers.

This funding has been paid as an uplift to your 16 to 19 budget allocation.

We have based your funding allocation on the number of students that you have told us you have on programme. You cannot exceed your total funding allocation.

Once you’ve spent your full allocation, you should not make any more payments.

We’ll claim back any unspent funds in August 2024. We’ll notify you about the amount we’ll be claiming back once the Employer Support Fund has closed.

Validate claims

Employers will need to provide basic information about their business and the costs they are claiming for as part of a short employer declaration form.

We do not need to see evidence of the costs they are claiming for. By signing the declaration form, the employer is confirming that:

  • the costs are true
  • all costs they are claiming from the fund meet the requirements of the funding rules
  • they have complied with conditions on how they can spend it

The employer should complete the declaration form and give it back to you to submit, and for your own records. Employers can submit it electronically or by hand. An e-signature is sufficient.

You only need one declaration form if the employer is offering placements:

  • to multiple students at the same time
  • with start dates that are close together

If they offer further placements at a later date, you will need to complete and submit a new declaration form. You should make sure that any additional payments to the employer do not exceed the £25,000 maximum.

When you make a submission on the data tracking tool, you’ll get a prompt to attach a copy of a completed and signed employer declaration form.

We’ll conduct random spot checks on all claims you submit. This is part of our quality assurance process. We may ask both you and the employer to provide further detail on the costs they have claimed for.

Paying employers

You can make payments to employers who provide industry placements for your students. This is to cover legitimate costs. You cannot use this funding to cover your own costs.

You’re responsible for making a payment to employers once you have agreed:

the legitimate costs they’re claiming for

when you’ll make the payment

We recommend you make the payment once the placement starts. Some employers may not be able to host an industry placement without up-front funding, so you may need to pay them sooner.

In most cases, we expect payments will be by BACS. This means, you’ll need to get the employer’s bank details.

There is no cap on the amount of funding you can pay out to an employer for an individual student, if the costs they are claiming are eligible under the funding rules. However, employers cannot claim for legitimate costs that exceed £25,000 in total.

The maximum amount any single employer can receive across multiple placements is £25,000. This is a total value which includes funding from all providers they may be working with.

We’ll monitor spending and notify you if an employer is nearing the maximum amount.

Submit data

You’ll need to:

  • submit data every 6 weeks through the data tracking tool
  • upload completed and signed employer declaration forms
  • make one submission per employer, per payment
  • upload each submission separately

We expect it will take 5 minutes per submission to complete the tool.

Access the data tracking tool

To access the data tracking tool, you’ll need a DfE user account.

Ask the head or senior individual in your organisation who has a DfE user account.

Deadline for submissions

The final deadline for submitting data through the data tracking tool is 5 May 2024. We’ll not accept submissions after this date.

Changes in circumstances

If an industry placement ends unexpectedly because of the student, we would not expect employers to repay any payments they’ve received and spent.

Discuss the situation with the employer and consider what appropriate action you should take. For example, if the payment was for equipment ask the employer if they can use it to support a different student on another placement.

If you’ve not yet paid the employer but they have already spent the allocated funding, we would recommend you still offer the funding to the employer. You’ll need to submit a completed and signed employer declaration form for any payments.

If an employer stops offering an industry placement:

  • before the placement starts, consider the circumstances and what appropriate action you should take - we recommend that you do not make any payments until the placement starts
  • that has already started, you can ask the employer to refund any payments you’ve made

If an industry placement is not up to an acceptable standard, follow the steps as set out in the industry placement delivery guidance. This explains what to do when a placement is not an acceptable standard. If you’ve already made a payment to an employer, request a refund.

 

Contact us

If you have questions about the employer support fund, email: Employer.SUPPORTFUND@education.gov.uk.

 

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