The government has confirmed that schools are to hire apprentices, as they are to be included in the public sector bodies to take part in the government’s apprentice initiative.

Schools Week reports that schools had expressed concerns about their ability to hire apprentices, due to the apprentice levy that has to be paid to employ them, as well as the practical difficulties of finding them suitable work.

The policy is part of a government initiative to hire apprentices across a growing number of sectors by 2020- a Conservative party election pledge.

Ministers chose to include schools and multi-academy trusts in the rules, despite exempting larger public bodies including the BBC, Channel 4, the Post Office, and the Houses of Parliament.

Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was unfair to exclude some commercial companies but include schools.

He told Schools Week:

 “It is inappropriate that we have a national education service which has not been exempt in any way from this target, whereas a number of other organisations which can be considered commercial are being exempted.”

As an example, a school with 250 employees, would have to hire at least six apprentices each year, assuming its workforce remains at the same level.

Schools Week previously reported that some larger academy trusts face having to hire up to 120 apprentices each year.

The apprenticeship targets will be introduced from April.

Consultation respondents stated schools should be exempt from the target because teaching is a “graduate profession so it is not possible to have teaching apprentices”.

The report stated:

“Finally, there was concern that the costs of the targets (salaries, on-costs, training) would divert funds away from their core educational purpose.”

The government has calculated that, of the 600,000 staff working in the schools sector, 110,000 work for schools, trusts or councils that employ more than 250 people. If correct, schools will need to hire 3,000 apprentices in total.

Apprenticeships must last for at least one year and combine on-the-job training with college courses.