Welcome to the twelfth article in our 18 part series on the Apprenticeship Levy. Throughout this series, we’re breaking down the myths surrounding the levy and explaining, post by post, how it could benefit businesses of all sizes throughout the UK. Over the past few weeks, we’ve explored who is eligible to contribute to the levy, which businesses are entitled to use the funds and how those funds can be spent.

The Apprenticeship Levy is a UK-wide venture

The levy has been put in place to help encourage more individuals take up apprenticeships and motivate businesses to provide more apprenticeship opportunities. So far, so good. Only the top earning businesses (those with an annual wage bill of £3million or more) need to contribute to the levy, but businesses of all shapes and sizes can tap into those funds in one way or another. While the Apprenticeship Levy is a UK-wide venture, designed to increase the number of apprenticeships across Great Britain by 2020, there has been some confusion over its application in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. That’s because apprenticeships fall under skills policy, which is a devolved matter. It’s one of the reasons Scotland has a different education and student loans system to England, and there are many other key differences.


Skills policy and apprenticeships are a devolved matter

What this effectively means is that Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales manage their own apprenticeship programmes, independent of England. That includes how funding is spent on any apprenticeship training, as well as how much funding will be available in each region. To put it simply, money raised by the Apprenticeship Levy will be transferred as a bulk payment to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales based on how many employees are based in each location. This gives each country in the UK a degree of certainty over how much funding will be received to support apprenticeship programmes. The more businesses (or employers), the greater the funding.

Here’s where the crucial difference lies. Whereas levy funds in England must be spent on apprenticeships that are officially registered and moderated, funds in the rest of the UK can be spent however the Scottish, Northern Irish or Welsh authorities decide.


What does this mean for apprentices?

The devolvement of power around skills policy and apprenticeships means that Scotland, Ireland and Wales are allowed to spend their levy funds on more than apprenticeships if they so wish. Funds could be allocated to wider learning programmes or programmes to upskill the current workforce. Naturally, this could give aspiring apprentices a little more opportunity depending on where they choose to study, but it could also prove to be restrictive depending on how each local authority decides to use the funds.

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.


Want to learn more about the apprenticeship levy?

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Oliver Simpson

Written by Oliver Simpson