Registration is now open for the apprenticeship service
The much-awaited digital apprenticeship service is now open for registration. If you are a large employer with a wage bill of over £3 million a year you should register now.
If you’ve been reading my recent blog posts you’ll be fully aware of the implication of the apprenticeship levy for your business. The levy will require all employers with a wage bill of over £3 million a year, to pay 0.5% of their wage bill into the apprenticeship service and launches on 6th April 2017. You can start accessing your funds from May.
The online account that you register for then allows you to financially manage your apprenticeship programme and expenditure. Remember, you can only use funding in your digital account for apprenticeship programmes and if you do not use it, you lose it.
However, I am not going to dwell on the logistics of registering here; rather focus on some tips to help you with less than 3 months to go. If you want to find out more you should check out the GOV.UK website, sign up to our blogs or give me a call.
1. Do you currently invest in training and development?
If you currently invest in training and development, non-apprenticeship or apprenticeship programmes then explore how the apprenticeship levy can be used to fund these. Apprenticeships are for the up skilling of existing employees as well as new employees and for employees of any age. For example, if you have an external management development programme in place, this can be funded via your digital account.
2. Do you have any internal programmes?
If you deliver your own programmes, then it is possible to become a sub-contractor to a training provider that has access to your apprenticeship funds. This is a great way to continue with your own programmes and potentially get paid for doing so. Careful consideration however is important as becoming a sub-contractor brings additional costs and requirements.
3. Don’t commit it all to one provider (use sepcialists)
There are currently providers offering to manage all your apprenticeship funds for you. However, it is your money and you should both take a strong interest in how it is being managed and want the best quality provision for the investment you make. I would personally recommend using specialist providers rather than one provider that says they can deliver everything.
4. Don’t spend money on consultants unless you really have to.
There are organisations out there offering to support your business with the apprenticeship service and charging fees up to £2500 per day when you can get this support for free! Please consider carefully before selecting an organisation that offers (for a fee) to design programmes, map training to Apprenticeship Standards or offer to manage the digital account. Reputable training providers will do this without charging.
5. Link spend to your business strategy
Ensure that any spend links to your learning and development strategy or business strategy if you don’t have the former. Don’t just spend it to use it. It is your money and you should be getting a return on it. Spend it where you need not because you have to.
6. Speak to the Skills Funding Agency or training providers that will offer open, honest and impartial support.
If you are a large employer that will be paying in excess of £350,000 p.a. in to your account, I would recommend talking to the Skills Funding Agency directly. They offer free impartial support to employers and may be able to provide you with a direct contact to advise and guide you. That said, they may refer you to other organisations as they do have limited resource to support employers and cannot do this for everyone. There are many reputable training providers out there that will also provide free impartial, open and honest support.
You really don’t have much time left to plan before the launch in April. I strongly recommend registering as soon as possible, checking out the tools for supporting your planning provided on the GOV.UK website and have a clear plan in place for how you will allocate and manage your funds moving forward.
Please feel free to contact me for support or advise. We won’t charge and will be glad to help.