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It's been just over a year since the Apprenticeship levy was introduced for employers with a pay bill of over £3million, and almost a third of employers that are obliged to pay the levy have not yet registered their digital levy accounts.

Furthermore, according to an Open University, just 8 percent of Apprenticeship levy funds were actually spent in the 10 months since the scheme's launch, with £1.28bn of £1.39bn paid in by businesses "sitting unused" in accounts.

Use your levy contribution for Apprenticeship training or lose it

As a levy paying employer, you have effectively paid for your Apprenticeship training upfront. It's up to your organisation whether or not you want to spend those funds to develop the skills and knowledge of your current employees and recruit Apprentices, or not. If you choose not to spend this fund on Apprenticeships, there is no way of getting that money back or putting those funds to use for other business purposes.

For many businesses, the decision not to invest the levy contribution has been driven by a misunderstanding about Apprenticeships - perceiving them as only relevant for school leavers in certain sectors such as motor mechanics, engineering or hairdressing, and not relevant for existing employees. Thus prompting the decision by many businesses to write this off as a tax. 

The Apprenticeship levy - a learning opportunity for all employees 

On the contrary, nowadays a wide range of Apprenticeships across levels 2 - 7 are being mapped into organisation's existing learning and developing programmes, providing structured continuous professional development opportunities for existing employees across all sectors. Fortunately, as the levy moves into its second year and is receiving a high-level of national media coverage, the real extent of Apprenticeships has started to become more widely understood by employers.

Employer's understanding how all sectors can benefit from the new employer-led Apprenticeship Standards is on the up. This includes level 2 and upwards to higher level Apprenticeships (level 4 and 5 are equivalent to foundation degree level). Furthermore, how these Apprenticeship standards can be tailored to specific organisations, department and roles is an influential factor in gaining buy-in from employers. As we move into the second year since the levy (April 2017), time to spend your initial contribution is running out. If you haven’t already, you can calculate your levy contribution with our levy calculator.

How your business can benefit from the levy

This is where a huge opportunity lies for your business – the levy can be used to plug skills gaps across all departments and sectors. Many of our levy-paying employer partners are utilizing their levy funds to develop skills across their middle and higher management tiers, which will, in turn, have a positive impact on meeting business objectives and staff retention rates. The benefits to morale for upskilling existing employees are substantial. Others are investing it in developing the skills of their core business administrators, those in customer-facing roles and specialists in their industries such as carers and childcare workers.

Develop a talent pipeline for your organisation

Apprenticeships have played a vital part in tackling the UK's skills shortage for many decades and provide a steady pipeline of talent entering the workforce. There are many benefits of hiring an Apprentice, the key benefit being that your new employee/apprentice will have a structured training programme in place via the Apprenticeship Standard that you choose to put them on. Their allocated Personal Tutor (trained to assessor standard) will deliver learning, support training with resources and guide them towards the gateway in preparation for the end-point assessment, ensuring the highest standards of training for your Apprentice.

Start benefiting from your Apprenticeship levy contribution  

Step 1 - Identify what your organisation will need to adapt and grow in the future is key to understanding what types of Apprenticeship standard(s) and levels you'll need to reach your goals and objectives.

Step 2 - Review the skills of existing staff (we will conduct a training needs analysis for you) and compare those to the skills your organisation will need in the future.

Step 3 - Look at your existing training programmes and map them to Apprenticeship standards where possible. Some will be able to be replaced directly by Apprenticeships, while others can be supplemented with additional learning.

We will undertake all the tasks above to create and deliver an Apprenticeship training solution that maps to your existing learning and development plan and integrates seamlessly with your business.  This will help to meet your long-term objectives and ensure that you gain the maximum return on your levy contribution.

Call us today on 0800 783 2545 to arrange a consultation with one of our sector specialists and find out how we can help you develop an Apprenticeship solution that's just right for your business.