Welcome to the penultimate article in our 18 part series on the Apprenticeship Levy. Over the course of this series we’ve put the Apprenticeship Levy under the spotlight and uncovered everything there is to know about it, from who needs to contribute to who’s eligible to use it - and everything in between. Now it’s time to take a brief look at how best to put those funds into action. You’ve looked into the Apprenticeship Levy, read our series on it and you’re all clued up. You know what funds you have access to, you’ve opened an online account and you’re ready to go… what next?
Know what you want to achieve
Bringing apprentices into your workplace is a fantastic way to expand your workforce, but without a proper plan in place employers may struggle to get the most out of it. Don’t consider apprenticeships as only for young college leavers who need to start at the bottom and ‘work their way up’. Instead, consider apprenticeships for what they are; an effective way for any new or existing employees of any age to level up their skills and gain new qualifications. With that in mind, you might decide to include some of your current staff on an apprenticeship programme, as well as bringing in new candidates to fulfil new roles. Think about your business and where it’s headed, any potential new departments you may eventually want that may need new staff or team leaders. Think about where you want your business to be in five years time, and use the Apprenticeship Levy to start preparing and steering the ship.
Be prepared to balance work and education
Apprenticeships are brilliant because they allow people to learn while on the job, gaining valuable work experience while they build up to a qualification. This has countless benefits for employers, not least the ease at which a newly qualified apprentice can slip into the workforce once they’re qualified (because they’re already a part of the workforce!). That said, there are some concessions to make short-term. Employers will need to be aware that several hours of their apprentice’s week will need to be devoted to study, learning and even passing exams. This all depends on the training partner you choose through the Levy system, which brings us onto our next point…
Choosing the right training partner
If you’ve stuck with this series (or have time to read back through it), you’ll know that Apprenticeship Levy funds can only be spent with Government approved trainers. This helps to keep the standards of apprenticeships high, and ensures that both employees and aspiring apprentices get the most out of the system. There are literally thousands of training partners to choose from across countless sectors. Start by looking at their completion rates for your sector - it may be that one partner excels in accountancy, but falls short in other areas. Some may even specialise in a particular field like construction or computer science. It’s also worth looking at a training provider’s history too - how long have they been providing apprenticeship courses? Are they financially stable? Finally, think about location. If your business has one office in one key location, that’s easy, but if you have branches all over the UK it might be worth considering a provider that can cater to multiple areas across the country to maximise your relationship with them.
The Apprenticeship Levy is really a super power for businesses of all sizes, but like any great power, the knowledge of how to wield it is key. Don’t rush into an apprenticeship programme or start training half-heartedly. Get the most out of the funds you’re entitled to by thinking about how you want to grow your business, then finding the right apprentices (remember, they may be existing employees) and the right training partners to make it happen.
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.