Policy Updates - Energy & Utility Skills

Policy Updates

February 2024

Policy Updates

Apprenticeships in the Autumn Statement 

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement at the end of November included announcements on apprenticeships which said, “The government has transformed apprenticeships to offer a prestigious and high-quality alternative route to higher education”. The statement also pledged to commit £50 million to deliver a two-year apprenticeships pilot to stimulate training in high value sectors and address barriers to entry. 

The associated Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) reports also forecast that cash raised by the apprenticeship levy is set to exceed previous predictions and reach £4 billion by 2024-25. It is anticipated that the gap between employer receipts generated from the levy and funds distributed for public spending on apprenticeship training will widen. 

Increase in Apprenticeship Starts 

Data released by the Department for Education (DfE) at the end of January shows a 7% increase in starts on apprenticeship standards overall for the first three months of the current operating year.  

Starts on the Maintenance & Operations Engineering Technician standard have increased 18%, Engineering Operative 30%, and Power Network Craftsperson 40% compared with the same time last year.  

Maximum Funding for New Apprenticeship Standards  

Three new apprenticeship standards in our sector have received the maximum funding allocation from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE).  

The Power Industry Cable Jointer – Distribution standard, and the Power Industry Overhead Linesperson, and Power Industry Substation Fitter standards have all received the maximum funding band allocation of £27,000.   


The first learners on T-Levels in the Engineering & Manufacturing occupational route are due to complete this summer. The results will underpin early indications of potential progress from general engineering T-Level programmes to technical roles in the energy and utilities industries.  

There is no specific T-Level for the energy and utilities sector, and attention was focussed on the future of T-Levels by the Prime Minister’s announcement of the Advanced British Standard (see below).  

The current and proposed changes to the technical education 16 to 19 curriculum provide an opportunity for sector employers to identify programmes, such as pre-apprenticeships, that would better meet the needs of employers and learners.  

Advanced British Standard (ABS) 

In the autumn, the Prime Minister announced plans to create a new qualification for 16 to 18 year olds – the Advanced British Standard. The proposed baccalaureate style  qualification aims to integrate the strengths of A-Levels and T-Levels, seeking to ensure parity between technical and academic pathways. The ABS would require every student to study some form of Mathematics and English until the age of 18 and take a larger number of subjects at both ‘major’ and ‘minor’ level, with most studying a minimum of five subjects at different levels. 

Concerns relating to the proposed ABS include whether T-levels are too large to be incorporated into a new qualification and whether the demands of T-levels would push vocational education beyond the reach of young people who struggle to achieve at GCSE.  

An initial consultation, which can be found here,  has been launched to gather feedback from education providers and stakeholders on the design and implementation of the ABS which runs until 20th March 2024. This will inform a White Paper, to be published during 2024, setting out the plan for delivery. 

Energy & Utility Skills will submit a response to the consultation. 

Hydrogen Policy 

The government announced before Christmas that it would no longer be supporting the proposed hydrogen heating village trial in Redcar due to the lack of availability of the main source of hydrogen. This followed a decision in July that Whitby would no longer be considered as a trial location.  

A final decision on whether and how hydrogen will contribute to domestic heating decarbonisation is still planned for 2026. This indicates that policy makers are not completely ruling out the possibility of using hydrogen for heating but need more time to assess the evidence from wider research, the neighbourhood trial in Fife and similar trials across Europe.  

Skills for Green Industry in Scotland 

In December the Scottish Government reported on its budget plans to increase spending on skills and education on by £128m. As renewable technologies generated the equivalent of 113% of Scotland’s overall electricity consumption in 2022, the Scottish Government announced that its Green Industrial Strategy would be published soon. 

For any questions on policy issues please contact carl.jordan@euskills.co.uk or grace.storey@euskills.co.uk