Choosing an apprenticeship delivery partner? Read our simple checklist first
As most of us now know, employers in England with an annual payroll of over £3 million are now required to invest in apprenticeships through the Apprenticeship Levy. Described by some as a business tax, the levy aims to increase investment in skills while giving you, the employer, control over its use. You get to choose the workforce development strategy that’s best for your business.
How can I use the Levy Fund?
The Levy Fund could be used to develop your existing employees, to ensure their skills are in pace with the 21st century. You could also use it to develop new apprentice recruits, helping to influence your business goals. Like many businesses, you can have a blend of both – whatever’s best for you. As the levy payer, you get to select your apprenticeship provider, responsible for ensuring your staff skills are fit for the future.
So far, so simple. But what if you’ve never had to choose an apprenticeship provider before? Or perhaps there’s a rising concern that your current supplier is not right for the future? Here’s our simple checklist for selecting an apprenticeship partner:
With all employers with over £3m payroll bill now contributing to the levy, the total funding pot for apprenticeships is sizeable. Understandably, this has attracted a lot of interest from both existing and relatively new apprenticeship providers. As in any service area, experience counts for a lot. So one of the first questions you should ask is: ‘How long have you been in the apprenticeship business’? Swiftly followed by: “How many apprentices do you have yourself?” A quality partner should be able to demonstrate solid experience alongside a demonstrable commitment to apprenticeship development.
Most businesses are complex, operating from different locations, with different working patterns, and many different functions. Ask yourself: can your provider support the whole of your business and tailor its offer to your needs? Good apprenticeship providers should feel like an integral part of your company that flexes as you do – not a rigid, bolted-on service.
- Supply chain management
As we’ve said before, most levy-paying organisations are complex and will need a range of apprenticeship training and development solutions to meet their skills needs. Beware the single provider who claims to be expert in all areas. You may end up with ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’. A good apprenticeship provider will have core specialisms, supported by a robust supply chain of partners in other expert areas – and will manage this seamlessly on your behalf. From vetting suppliers to managing ongoing administration, good supply chain management is a vital service to get right when selecting an apprenticeship partner.
- Data Management
A good learner management system is vital for managing your apprenticeship programme and making sure you draw down your levy funds effectively. It’s also critical when liaising with Ofsted and other regulatory bodies, as well as for quality assurance and audits. Ask your provider about data management; how they’ll record, report and share data that matters most to you? Through clunky spreadsheets that require extra work from you? The best apprenticeship providers offer user-friendly dashboards and tools that compliment your existing learning management system infrastructure.
- Cultural fit
Many apprenticeship programmes span several years. So working with an apprenticeship provider is a long term partnership you want to get right. When you’ve checked out everything about a supplier’s capacity and capability, ask yourself: what’s the cultural fit like?
If, hand on heart, you know your business has a dislike of paperwork and an aversion to deadlines, can your apprenticeship supplier cope with this and step in to support you? Conversely, if formal project management, policies and audits are integral to your company’s way of doing things, can the provider comply with this? Spend time with potential suppliers to reassure yourself there’s good synergy. Your employees’ development depends on it.
Established for over thirty years, Seetec is one of the UK’s leading apprenticeship providers. From digital media and finance, to aviation and business management, we provide tailored apprenticeship recruitment and programme management services to the private and public sector. To find out more about Seetec’s apprenticeship services, and how to make the most of the Apprenticeship Levy, contact us today.