Apprenticeships are often a stereotypical path into a career through work-based learning for school leavers. However, this is not the case with an increasing amount of employers utilising apprenticeships to aid the development of their workforce by advancing their skillset and improving their existing knowledge and behaviours in the workplace.
However, a majority of employers do not perhaps recognise the huge benefits and opportunities that apprenticeships present. For large employers, you are able to fund each apprenticeship programme with the money from your existing apprenticeship levy pot. With the apprenticeship levy to spend, now is the time to review your internal training needs to see how an apprenticeship programme might benefit a wide range of staff across your workforce.
Many levy-paying employers are not utilising their funds and how it was revealed that there was £2.9 billion unspent from the employers’ apprenticeship service accounts at the end of September 2018. If you do not use your funds after their expiry date, they are then used by other employers who need it – so why not think spending your levy on apprenticeships for your business before someone else does…
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why would an existing member of staff want to do an apprenticeship?
The perception of apprenticeships is changing – and if you want to make the Levy work in your organisation, you need to educate your staff on this. Traditional preconceptions that apprentices can only be entry-level school leavers or labour-intensive workers are evolving. With the employer-led redesign of apprenticeship standards, apprenticeships are more highly valued training and education routes, which emphasise quality, knowledge and practical skills. Apprenticeships are assessed against levels, as with all qualifications in the UK, ranging from 1 to 8. The higher the level, the higher the level of demand required to complete it. This means an existing member of staff could take a Master’s degree in a specialist subject, which would, doubtlessly contribute towards their growth within the company. Many employers are investing in apprenticeships for new managers, to help them get the right skills in line with industry standards. In essence, the term ‘apprenticeship’ is just a word; it is really a highly intensive training and qualification opportunity – one which many members of staff may be interested in if they understood it fully.
Can I use the Apprenticeship Levy to send my team on a one-day training course?
In short: no. The system is designed to intensively educate and train individuals within their specific roles. Apprentices must follow the guidelines for apprenticeship standards, which includes end-point assessment. Short courses do not qualify under the scheme. However, employers looking to make use of the funds may wish to consider investing in a smaller number of apprenticeships for existing staff in different/specialist areas, who can then disseminate their new knowledge throughout their teams. Not only this, but we offer a range of funded short courses (eligibility applies). Our Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) is a programme developed to upskill employees within small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). We can work with you to develop a bespoke training programme relevant to your needs, and because this programme is co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) a wide range of training can be accessed at no cost to your business. Successful team members that are interested would gain nationally recognised unitised certificate.
Why would I want my existing staff to spend 20% of their time away from work?
Apprentices will need to spend 20% of their time ‘off-the-job’. This is by the far the most concerning problem for employers. Most businesses can see this being applicable to new starts, but not to current employees. Understand that apprentices don’t necessarily have to be physically away from your organisation for 20% of the time. They just need to be doing something that isn’t part of their usual role. Utilise this time to get them helping with different projects, learning from others, and studying for the qualification aspect of the apprenticeship. The key thing to remember is that apprentices will be still be working and earning while they learn. Help educate your workforce and support them through this new approach to taking on new roles: implement a learning culture that supports and embraces apprenticeships – and demonstrate the value and successes through our apprenticeship programmes.
When is the deadline to spend the Apprenticeship Levy?
Funds that aren’t spent 24 months after they enter your account will expire. That means that if you received your funds in September 2019, you have until September 2021 to spend them.As of July 2018, big businesses can now transfer up to 10% of their levy to as many other employers as they choose. This flexibility was designed to encourage apprenticeship starts in small business as well as for companies that pay the Apprenticeship Levy.