Apprenticeship Levy: collaboration is key

With only a few short weeks to go before the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, we round up some of the key points around this much anticipated reform and where the responsibility lies to ensure that this new approach is successful.

The reforms that will shortly come into effect are part of the government’s plans to increase the number of businesses that take on apprentices, as it continues its drive to reach three million apprenticeship starts by 2020.

With the introduction of new apprenticeship standards as set out by employers, or trailblazers, they hope to increase the workplace relevance of apprenticeships and echo what is recognised as a pro-apprenticeship stance by the government. The buy-in to the more relevant skillset of future apprentices comes in the form of the Levy.

The Levy is intended to encourage employers to invest in apprenticeships for their workforce – putting them under pressure to create the optimal apprenticeship scheme for their business. This is backed by the trailblazer apprenticeship standards.

This means that from next month, all employers with an annual wage bill of over £3m will be required to pay a 0.5% tax, which they’ll be able to spend on training new apprentices or existing employees.

Employers that don’t pay the Levy (those whose wage bill is below £3m) will not be using the apprenticeship service account immediately, and will rely on finding a provider with a funding allocation.

For businesses around the UK, this has meant getting to grips with what the Levy means for them and how they can best navigate the opportunity and overcome the challenges it presents.

To prepare for the changes to the frameworks, a great deal of work has been done to refine and amend our some of our existing provision to map to the new apprenticeship standards. Our own mapping documents can be found here.

The landscape, for all stakeholders involved, is new and complex, with Ofqual  recently calling the “responsibilities and accountabilities” in relation to the new reforms “blurred”. However, it is reassuring that the government – having set out in the recent Budget its commitment to funding technical education – has seeming reaffirmed their commitment to their portion of the responsibilities to ensure the new measures are a success.

For the rest of the collaborative parties and their responsibilities, in this period of change, awarding organisations, providers and employers will all need to work together to navigate the landscape and deliver high quality apprenticeships that will provide learners with essential skills they need to succeed, and help employers to plug skills gaps in their businesses.

We’re here to support you both now and in the future with the new standards and end point assessment. We’re pleased to be one of the organisations approved by the Skills Funding Agency to deliver end point assessment, with a particular focus on the healthcare, customer service, and leadership and management sectors.

If you’d like to talk about how we can support you with making the most of the Levy, please get in touch with our Apprenticeship Consultants on 0191 240 8950, email [email protected] or visit www.levy.ncfe.org.uk.