This is the second article in our 18 part series on the Apprenticeship Levy. In our first post we talked about the levy in general, how it is calculated and what it means for employers. In this article, we’ll be paying particular attention to employers who aren’t quite ready to hire new staff and want to learn whether or not they can use levy funds to train their existing employees.

The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced by the UK Government in order to create 3 million apprenticeships in England by 2020. It’s a great initiative that aims to lift employment rates, close the skills gap and give talented young people more opportunity to learn and develop skills whilst building their careers. For many employers, the levy is doing its job and motivating them to train fresh, new talent. However, it’s also understandable that many businesses identify skills gaps in the existing workforce that require significant up-skilling and development. These businesses often want to know if they can utilise their levy funds to train their current teams.

The simple answer to this increasingly common question is yes, you can use the Apprenticeship Levy fund to train existing staff members, but the training must be through an apprenticeship.

Why put existing staff members through an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships in 2019 are massively different to apprenticeships 10 years ago. There’s a persistent preconception that apprenticeships are only for school leavers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Apprenticeship standards have evolved and are now far more recognised and respected across hundreds of industries. For example, apprenticeships in the UK are awarded at levels 1 to 8. A higher level will require more professional experience, commitment and learning. Technically, a business could send one of their current employees on a level 8 apprenticeship and they could come out with the equivalent of a Masters qualification. This would, of course, hold huge benefits for the employer.

In short, apprenticeships can offer an opportunity for advanced, intensive learning that can lead to an attractive qualification for the apprentice that has been designed specifically for their career path, whilst offering great benefits to businesses in terms of productivity, efficiencies and succession planning.

How would an apprenticeship work for current staff?

In simple terms, it would work just like any other apprenticeship. Once enrolled, a member of staff would spend 80% of their time working as usual, but 20% of their time would be ‘off-the-job’ while they learn, study or get hands-on with different activities. This doesn’t necessarily mean that an apprentice will be away from work for 20% of the time, but they will spend a fifth of their time out of their usual routine, developing new skills, behaviours and competencies that can be applied in the workplace.

To summarise, it is perfectly possible to use Apprenticeship Levy funding to train existing employees, so long as they are enrolled on an apprenticeship programme. Most courses span 12 - 24  months and employees will need to spend 20% of their time ‘off the job’ while they study and work towards their new qualification.

In our next article, we’ll look at how to calculate the Apprenticeship Levy.

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.


New call-to-action


Oliver Simpson

Written by Oliver Simpson