Tony Glass, GM and VP EMEA at Skillsoft

Learning the tricks of the trade

Tony Glass, GM & VP Corporate Sales at Skillsoft explains the Apprenticeship Levy and all it has to offer.

1563: The year in which Government first issued laws to regulate apprenticeships within the UK. This was in part to prevent exploitation of young workers while also serving as an education piece for those looking for new recruits. Rush forward almost 500 years and the modern apprenticeship industry is a far different picture; a patchwork of industries and professions offering over 500 different forms of apprenticeships.

One thing that has not changed is the Government’s goal of improving the apprenticeship experience through business guidance, council and funding. To this end, the Government has set a target of recruiting 3 million apprentices by the year 2020, supported primarily through the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy.

What’s that?

The reform requires all employers operating in the UK with a pay bill over £3 million each year, to pay the Levy at a rate of 0.5% of their payroll. Once declared to HMRC, companies will have access to funding for apprenticeships and qualifications through a new Digital Apprenticeship Service Account.

The reform has set new standards for employers to be in control of apprenticeships. It places them at the heart of paying for and selecting training while keeping funding on a sustainable footing. Employers will be required to choose a framework or standard, select an approved apprenticeship provider(s), choose a separate assessment organisation, and then post vacancies – all using the funds in their new Digital Account to finance this. The Government’s aim is for all employers to be able to use the service to pay for training and assessment for apprenticeships by 2020.

What does it mean for employees?

At a time when you cannot move for headlines declaring a widening skills gap, any initiative that promotes and encourages more skills based training is a fantastic opportunity for those entering the workforce. The levy affords organisations the opportunity to establish or bolster pre-existing training programmes, helping drive up-take amongst young people who will view them as a path to a successful career.

These benefits translate into significant monetary returns for individuals over a working life. According to the Government’s apprenticeship paper, Our 2020 Vision, those completing an apprenticeship at level 4 or above could earn £150,000 more on average over their lifetime. Apprentices are also clear that their apprenticeships have increased their productivity and prospects. 85% of apprentices said their ability to do the job had improved, and 83% said their career prospects had improved.

Who can help?

Identifying the right skills for your employees and training providers is tricky business. Many employers will already have pre-existing providers or indeed their own provider status, yet the reform has set new standards and expectations. Look to external partners who can bolster your offering by providing guidance, insight and content that addresses your specific needs. Note you can only spend the funds in your digital account or access government support for apprenticeship training delivered by an approved training provider. The reform affects every large business regardless of whether it is from the IT sector, agricultural or manufacturing. The service offers a great opportunity for employers to not only improve their business, but to also improve the skills of millions of employees in the UK.

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