The Government announcement increasing the number of modern apprenticeships is welcome for the economy at large, but the news that these will concentrate in areas such as IT, engineering & construction will give areas such as sport & hospitality a knock in the wrong direction.
The modern Apprentice programme at Scottish Rugby has been running for 12 years and has been the starting point for many coaches and managers currently involved in the development of rugby throughout Scotland. The current programme sees 66 apprentices being supported by Clubs, Schools and the SRU.
With funding for the SRU apprenticeship scheme coming from the Government via Skills Development Scotland, as well clubs and schools, the announced reduction in funding from Skills Development Scotland will create challenges for the programme in future years. The funding from SDS to Scottish Rugby is to reduce by 20% in 2016/17, with a further 20% cut in 2017/18.
This reduction in funding, along with the coming increase in the national minimum wage, means the programme as it currently operates is not sustainable. The Board of Scottish Rugby have looked at several options and concluded that whilst the MA programme will continue, it will do so at a reduced level of 35 MAs. To facilitate the revised programme, Clubs will be required to increase their contribution to sponsor an MA from £2,760 to £3,000 per annum.
The changes to the scheme may have a significant impact on the community efforts carried out by many Clubs, as MAs often form an integral part schools curricula and extra curricula rugby activity, so keep an eye out for knock-on effects on Schools of Rugby and the future of schools taking part in the SRU Tiered league competitions.