Welcome to the 14th post in our 18 part series on the Apprenticeship Levy. Throughout the series we’ve covered everything employers and apprenticeship candidates could possibly need to know about the levy, including how it works, who’s eligible and what you can do with your funds. Though the levy scheme itself was launched in 2017, many employers still have questions about how they can best utilise their allocated funds. One of the questions we’ve noticed crop up time and time again, is whether or not the Apprenticeship Levy can be spent on graduate development. The short answer is yes, but there are some fundamental differences to traditional graduate programmes. 

Evolving the graduate system

Naturally, employers who contribute to the Apprenticeship Levy are very keen to see their investment returned. This return usually takes the form of brand new apprentices joining the ranks of the business, or training existing staff to increase their skills and make them even more of an asset. However, what larger businesses don’t realise is how effective the levy can be in transforming their existing graduate recruitment schemes. Instead of hiring new staff direct out of university, employers who utilise the levy can now choose to use degree level apprenticeships to train up staff regardless of their background. As of 2019, it’s estimated that over 300 businesses in the engineering, law and financial services industries are in the process of adopting this approach to graduate recruitment. 

Untapped potential

This approach comes with many advantages to businesses and aspiring apprentices alike. For one, businesses will no longer be limited to university-specific graduates and can instead cast their net far wider to bring in new talent and train them up to degree level. Another huge advantage is how quickly candidates can become immersed in workplace culture and processes while earning their degree through apprenticeship programmes. This will allow candidates to ‘hit the ground running' once they’re qualified, rather than taking time to adjust and acclimatise like a graduate fresh out of university might. There’s also the question of salary; new apprentices will typically take a lower starting salary than fresh university graduates. 

How to transition your graduate scheme

Making the switch from a graduate scheme to an apprenticeship scheme is relatively straightforward. Since the levy was introduced, apprenticeship courses have multiplied and increased in scope and quality. Apprentices are now able to get degrees in areas like accountancy and law through on the job training, rather than the traditional route of going through university. All a business has to do is start shopping around for the right registered apprenticeship courses to suit their needs. Courses can even be customised for specific roles, making your apprentices far more effective employees from day one. 

About Ascento

Ascento learning and development specialise in providing workforce development apprenticeship programmes to both apprenticeship levy paying employers and non levy employers. We work closely with employers to identify the key areas for development and design  strategic solutions to tackle these with programmes that are tailored to each individual learner. With two schools of excellence focusing on Management and Digital Marketing we don’t deliver every qualification under the sun, but focus on what we know best and ensure that quality is at the heart of everything we do.


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Oliver Simpson

Written by Oliver Simpson