The Apprenticeship Levy: Top Tips to Maximise Your Funds in 2019
If you’re paying the apprenticeship levy, you’ll want to get as much value from your investment as possible. We’ve put together our top tips on how you can maximise your funds this year to ensure the levy delivers real value for money.
1. Keep up-to-date with the latest apprenticeship standards
Are you aware of the range of standards currently available? Since the levy was introduced in 2017, over 200 new apprenticeship standards have been developed. This means there are almost 400 standards approved for delivery today. More recent standards include human resources, learning and development, sales and marketing and advertising and media.
Apprenticeship standards have been designed to develop employees at a variety of levels, and include entry-level programmes for new recruits as well as higher and degree-level apprenticeships for more experienced staff.
Thanks to trailblazer groups the number of new standards is set to increase further. Driven to develop new programmes of learning to directly impact their workforce, groups of employers are coming together to create trailblazer groups. These groups work alongside the Institute for Apprenticeships to develop new standards focused on the specific knowledge, skills and behaviours needed within their sector.
2. Plan ahead
The apprenticeship levy provides a unique opportunity to transform your learning and development strategy. But you’ll need a robust plan to ensure you’re investing your funds to meet current and future skills needs.
Firstly, you’ll need to identify your business objectives and training priorities. Then you’ll want to map them against the most relevant standards available. Would it be more efficient to recruit new talent, or upskill existing staff? Finally, you’ll need to set out a realistic timeframe to work towards.
3. Choose the right strategic partner
You’re not in this alone. The right strategic partner will understand the purpose and needs of your business, helping you make the most of your levy funds. A good training provider should be able to support you by identifying training priorities and mapping these to apprenticeship standards, providing advice on accessing funds, managing a supply chain for specialist training, delivering programmes and organising end point assessments.
Your training provider can also support you by ensuring programmes are tailored to the organisation or individual. Apprenticeship standards can be adapted or contextualised to ensure training is wholly relevant, meets the needs of your business and delivers real return on investment.
4. An opportunity to re-energize your workforce
The importance of investing in your workforce cannot be stressed enough. The apprenticeship levy can be used to develop existing staff, with many valuable benefits for your organisation. This could be done in several ways, for example by providing career pathways to retain talented individuals or investing in key skills.
Investing in the staff you already have can serve to motivate and re-energize your workforce. A successful learning and development strategy can increase productivity and retention rates, bridge any skills gaps, build company loyalty and ultimately have a positive impact on your company’s reputation.
5. Get advice on off-the-job training
A big concern for many employers is the 20% off-the-job training requirement. This is commonly misunderstood and doesn’t necessarily mean offsite on day release. For example, training could take the form of webinars, work shadowing, conferences, mentoring, distance learning or personal reflection.
With all the different options available to you, it’s important you get assistance from your training provider to deliver an effective development programme. This could include a mixed commitment of time from your business and your provider, or the full 20% being delivered by your training provider alone. Consider what works best for your business and apprentice before carrying out any training.
6. Take advantage of co-investment
Even after you’ve exhausted your levy funds you can take advantage of the government’s ‘co-investment’ scheme. Under this scheme you’ll only need to pay 10% towards the cost of any additional apprenticeship training and assessments not covered by your levy – the government will pay the remaining 90%.
This scheme provides a further incentive to invest in learning and development, widening the training opportunities your business can offer. It can also be used to offset your original training budget, effectively saving you money.
7. Consider using the levy transfer facility
Did you know that as a levy-paying employer, you’re able to transfer a portion of your funds to other companies, including those within your supply chain? This provides a great opportunity for you to enhance partnerships, develop the training needs of your suppliers, bridge a gap in their skill set or generally increase the flexibility of your levy spend.
Currently all levy-paying employers can transfer up to 10% of their total funds. But this is set to increase to 25% in April 2019. This makes the potential impact of transferring your funds significantly greater.